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The state of connectivity for marketers and creatives


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Marketing professionals have more tools and technologies at their disposal than ever before, and digital has paved the way for constant connectivity.

But the idea of connectivity goes beyond the mechanics of wifi, mobile phones, shared servers, and network protocols. It satisfies fundamental human desires and fulfills both professional and emotional needs. So what does that mean to the creative and marketing world? People want experiences that feel human, relatable, and validating.

What you’ll learn in this report:
- How marketers and creatives define “being connected"
- What marketers and creatives want from a connected community
- What challenges marketers and creatives face when connecting marketing content
- Unique ways marketing and creative leaders are connecting content and people (spotlight interviews)
- How digital asset management helps connect visual content

Published in: Marketing
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The state of connectivity for marketers and creatives

  1. 1. - 1 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report 20 17 Widen Connectivity Report The state of connectivity for marketers and creatives n n n n n n n n n n ©2017 All Rights Reserved.
  2. 2. - 2 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report Table of Contents nnn nnnnnnnnnn Connectivity: The state or extent of interdependence among people, objects, systems, information, and places, and the nature of those relationships. At Widen, we work to develop products, services, solutions, teams, and relationships that drive connected experiences. Connectivity shines through in all we do because it’s integral to who we are, where we’ve come from, and how we’re built. Top 10 Findings 4 Research Participants 6 Part 1 8 Spotlight Interview: Bendyworks 15 Part 2 18 Spotlight Interview: ERDMAN 25 Part 3 28 Spotlight Interview: LinkedIn 34 Conclusion 38 Special Feature: The Explosion of Visual Content 40 Quantitative Research Results 46 Qualitative Research Results 50 Marketing and Creative Tools 53 References 54
  3. 3. - 3 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report About the report Every day, we hear about a new app or solution that’s supposed to help marketers work more efficiently and be more productive. But are the needs of the people using those technologies evolving at the same rate? Do we really need one more tool? The internet has enabled the tech madness. It’s woven into our lives 24/7 – from what we do, to what we wear, to how we make plans, get an education, track our health, and pay bills. It connects people around the world, regardless of lifestyle, income level, or language. But the idea of “being connected” goes beyond the mechanics of WiFi, mobile phones, and network protocols. It satisfies fundamental human desires and fulfills both professional and emotional needs. So what does that mean to the creative and marketing world? People want experiences that feel human, relatable, and validating. As a content technology company, Widen develops software solutions that help marketing and creative professionals power their brands. We began examining “connectivity” in an effort to better understand and serve our market. That inquiry led to this research, which addresses the following topics: • How marketers and creatives define “being connected” • What marketers and creatives want from a connected community • What challenges they face when connecting marketing content • Which tools marketers and creatives use to stay connected Our key research findings are presented in parts 1, 2, and 3 of the report.
  4. 4. - 4 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report 71%of interview participants say they feel calm, confident, or engaged when they’re connected at work. 62% of online survey respondents want to maintain work connections in person, but only 8% feel being connected means being together in a physical space. 76%of interview participants indicate that the most successful collaboration happens in person. 83% of online survey respondents say being connected to a professional community is “very” or “somewhat” important to their career growth and satisfaction. Top10 findings These are the top 10 findings from our research. 67%of interview participants suggest that user inteface or usability would make them loyal to one tool over another. 86%of interview participants indicate they would prefer a “happy medium” between a very integrated solution and a mix of solutions. (findings 1-6)
  5. 5. - 5 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report 53% of online survey respondents feel the best way to achieve a feeling of connection at work is by collaborating with co-workers, yet only 7% feel being connected means being part of a team or group. 8%of online survey respondents say the best way to achieve a feeling of connection at work is by learning new tools. or techniques. 45%of online survey respondents indicate that using social media is not important to their job. When asked which two pain points (of six) they experience most in their daily marketing work, online survey respondents say: Q: From the list below, what are the two biggest pain points you experience in your daily work as a marketer? Finding files and documents you need for your projects Planning your marketing content as a team Keeping track of project review and approval Sharing content with others who need it Creating marketing content in a timely way 27% 34% 24% 26% 28% Measuring the effectiveness of your content44% (findings 7-10)
  6. 6. - 6 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report 200 marketing, creative, and IT professionals responded to our online survey conducted in April 2016. 21 marketing and creative professionals participated in one-on-one phone interviews between May and July 2016. Our sample population includes: Online survey respondents Business Size < 50 employees 51-1000 employees > 1000 employees 27% 35% 38% Roles Creative IT Marketer 24% 21% 38% 17% Other Manager Role Interview participants Research participants Business Size < 50 employees 51-1000 employees > 1000 employees 28% 39% 33% Business Size Industries represented <50 employees 51-1000 employees <1000 employees 27% 35% 38% Roles Creative Marketer 14% 86% 19% Consulting 14% Creative Agencies 14% Software Technology 14% Food and Beverage 10% Financial Services 9% Consumer Goods 5% Internet 5% Biotech 5% Healthcare 5% Telecommunications
  7. 7. - 7 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report In the spotlight This report highlights organizations that are doing great things to connect people, internally and externally. We hope their stories will inspire new and meaningful ways of connecting. 19% Consulting 14% Creative Agencies 14% Software Technology 14% Food and Beverage 10% Financial Services 5% Internet 5% Biotech 5% Healthcare 5% Telecomm 9% Consumer Goods Industries represented
  8. 8. - 8 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report 71%of research participants say they feel calm, confident, or engaged when they’re connected at work. Part 1 n The human side makes connectivity real How do marketers and creatives define the idea of “being connected”? This question was the catalyst for the 2017 Widen Connectivity Report. On the surface, it seems people have willingly traded in phone conversations, written letters, and townhall meetings for chat, email, social media, and online forums. But our research indicates that connecting is more about being human than being digital. We’re motivated to connect by our desire to interact, to be understood, and to enjoy relatable experiences. In fact, recent studies show that the human brain is hardwired to connect with other people.
  9. 9. - 9 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report When we asked online survey respondents,“What does being connected mean to you?,” they were instructed to rank the following answers by importance on a X-Y scale. We calculated their average rankings: Accessing information and knowing what’s going on are about files, documents, and dialogue. Yet there is still a human element involved. When we get information we need or know what’s going on, we feel calm, confident, and engaged. Connection to information is fulfilling. According to Dr. Matthew D. Lieberman, Director of UCLA’s Social Cognitive Neuroscience lab, wanting to connect is a basic human desire. Our brains are literally hardwired for it. After two decades of research, Lieberman concluded that staying socially connected is a lifelong human need, just like food and warmth.1 This social hardwiring is crucial to understanding what Fidelity calls “Generation C,” the growing subset of the population that constantly demands connectivity. Google researchers describe it as “a mindset defined by creation, curation, connection, and community” rather than a defined age range. Thus, Gen C includes but isn’t exclusive to millennials.2 Gen C may be the first generation defined by behavior rather than demographics. A key characteristic is their need for social, human connection within the many technologies they embrace. Technology connects us to data, news, and each other, but it’s a slippery slope. The more we rely on digital tools, the less human our connections become. Our well-being depends on connections with others. Meaningful social and emotional connections are the secret to making people smarter, happier, and more productive. What does being connected mean? “[When I’m connected] I feel on top of my game and plugged in personally. Teams are working in sync. And working in sync doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re getting along. It means you’re able to identify how to work well together; to identify challenges and solve them.” - Greg Yates, Chief Marketing Officer RICG Neuro-Creative Agency “There’s a certain calm and confidence people get when connected. They know they’re making the right decisions for the right reasons, and they don’t have to second guess it.” - Sam Mosier, Senior Manager of Global Content Marketing, Level 3 Communications “ Being with others in a physical space Being efficient in your work Being part of a team or group Accessing information you need Staying in touch with family and friends Knowing what’s going on/ staying current Using new tools and technologies 2.9 5.1 3.2 4.0 4.5 4.9 3.0
  10. 10. - 10 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report Feeling connected Across the board, our research participants report that different emotions are at play when they feel connected versus when they don’t. Participants say they experience positive feelings when connected: calm, engaged, in the know, like they belong, confident, safe, validated, and happy. When disconnected, they experience negative feelings: frustrated, out of the loop, overwhelmed, vulnerable, alone, stressed out, and unsure about what’s happening. Inclusion and adoption Our interview participants say they’re more likely to adopt a new technology if they’re somehow involved in – or connected to – the decision-making process for the purchase. Their responses suggest that people are more likely to adopt technology when they feel three forms of inclusiveness: • Inclusiveness…across technologies: Support and/or training is provided • Inclusiveness…across organizations and teams: Help silos break down and cross-functional teams communicate • Inclusiveness...across locations: Bridge the gap between different work sites, cities, and countries The challenge for marketers and creatives is to create or use tools that do what they say (functionality), yet provide enjoyable, people experiences (humanness). Technologies that lack a human element risk alienating people – not only marketers, but customers and end consumers, too – at all digital touchpoints. So what makes a technology enjoyable? • An intuitive, frictionless, easy user experience. 67% of our interview participants say that usability or user interface is the primary consideration that would make them more loyal or connected to one work tool over another. • A sense of partnership expressed through good support over chat, phone calls, email, and content • Familiarity and comfort – a resemblance to common, popular systems, or systems they already use • Mirrors a user’s preferred work style and processes Artificial connections and semantic data Our research participants also commented on technology that mimics human connections. Today, marketers can translate purchasing habits and daily behaviors into “semantic data” – information that allows machines to understand the meaning of information and act on it. Put simply, machines can personalize offers and content for individuals. Experiences that neglect the human element risk alienating people. of our interview particpants suggest usability or user interface 67% What considerations makes you more loyal, or connected, to one work tool than another?
  11. 11. - 11 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report “I think connecting to information is different than connecting with someone else. If I’m going to access information about a strategy document, I’ll use a work tool to connect to it. But if I have a question about the strategy, then I’ll go ask someone on the team about it. That’s the difference.” - Corporate Vice President, National life insurance company “Connectivity is about having processes or tools that give me information on demand, as needed. For example, when I need information about how people are visiting our website. Are we connecting to the right people from our email distribution list? And what does the data show they’re using our information for? When I’m connected, systems and tools are talking to each other and I don’t have to babysit. Data is coming at me in new ways to help me make decisions.” - Jenne Meyer, Ph.D., VP of Brand, ERDMAN “When you’re unfamiliar with a work tool altogether, then support for that tool is key. Who truly wants to partner with your company? They’re the ones who will get your business.” - Marketing Director, U.S. food service manufacturer “To me, the single thing that is most broadly underserved is user interface. So many tools I use are built through a developer’s eye and not through the end user’s eye. When you really understand what the user needs to navigate through and the decisions they need to make, then UX design is much better positioned to succeed. If developers are smart, they will reverse engineer the experience from the get-go. There’s often a disconnect between the people designing the UX and the person using it.” - Sam Mosier, Senior Manager of Global Content Marketing, Level 3 Communications “
  12. 12. - 12 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report The transformation of marketing At their best, machines can produce the feeling that someone understands and relates to us even though they don’t know us. Some of our research participants wondered whether artificial human connections are convincing to consumers or not. A modern, connected marketing team Marketers today must use technology, data, and content to deliver meaningful customer experiences. This involves a sophisticated set of processes that weren’t even possible until very recently. Marketo, a leading marketing automation software company, presents the visual summary below of how marketing was defined 15-20 years ago versus now.3 This transformation has largely been driven by a new buying process, defined by changes in technology and consumer behavior. Research from Forrester suggests that because consumers have so much information available to them digitally, they conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase.4 Marketers need to focus on new ways to be “found” by their customers and then create relevant and impactful content to nurture customer relationships. As the marketing industry has changed how it connects with consumers, the structure of teams and departments has also adapted. In many cases, marketing departments are expanding, not shrinking, as remote and virtual teams become more prevalent. Historically, business teams were more siloed. Even recently, it was common Source: Marketo. Lead Generation? Represent the company Finding customers Represent the customer Being found Mass advertising Demographic 1:1 Targeting Behavioral Point in time blasts Few/isolated channels Continuous relationships Exploding/integrated channels 3rd party data (Nielsen) Intuitive decision making Owned, big data Fact-based decision making THEN & NOW Mission Customer Intelligence Mechanics & Tactics Measurement Represent the company Finding customers Represent the customer Being found Mass advertising Demographic 1:1 Targeting Behavioral Point in time blasts Few/isolated channels Continuous relationships Exploding/integrated channels 3rd party data (Nielsen) Intuitive decision making Owned, big data Fact-based decision making THEN & NOW Mission Customer Intelligence Mechanics & Tactics Measurement Represent the company Finding customers Represent the customer Being found Mass advertising Demographic 1:1 Targeting Behavioral Point in time blasts Few/isolated channels Continuous relationships Exploding/integrated channe 3rd party data (Nielsen) Intuitive decision making Owned, big data Fact-based decision making THEN & NOW Mission Customer Intelligence Mechanics & Tactics Measurement
  13. 13. - 13 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report “I work from a home office, so I’m accessing email and work files from my hard drive or our company server and posting things to our intranet. I also need to connect with clients, internal staff members, and our sister company. We have a million different tools that we use, and each one plays into which part of the company or which side of the equation I’m working on. If I’m having dialogue with a client, it’s primarily email. If it’s internal, then it’s usually file sharing mechanisms.” - Director of Marketing, Franchise marketing company “I guess that’s the creepy-cool side of marketing today. You can get at all kinds of data to better understand somebody and communicate with them in a way that feels ultra personal even when there’s no real human relationship there.” - Jake Athey, Director of Marketing, Widen “I’ve done packaging testing in a virtual store where consumers put on little headlamps and we asked, ‘Can you find this product?’ And they do. But something in my gut says, ‘Yeah, but this isn’t in real life.’ It doesn’t have their kid crying in a stroller, the lights are perfect, and it’s not messy. The trend is going towards virtual testing from an efficiency and cost standpoint, but it worries me that we’re losing some of that human interaction.” - Marketing Director, North American food and beverage company “Keeping connected to the news of the day through social media is good, but in terms of deep connections, person to person is still more relevant.” - Senior Design Manager, Global food and beverage manufacturer (focused in the nutrition portfolio) “
  14. 14. - 14 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report to have print and digital departments operate separately. But as increased productivity and other benefits of connected teams have become visible, the departmental barriers have started to come down. Marketing teams will continue to change as social media, new technologies, and global culture grows. Emerging roles may include content archivists, transcultural anthropologists, truth engineers, mobile marketing Jedis, social journalists, data scientists, and community executives.5,6 Our research supports the notion that wanting to connect influences the selection of communication tools, technology adoption strategies, and team organizational structures. Our data also demonstrates that the human element in any connection is what allows it to be authentic and real. If we want our teammates and customers to feel good about our work, we can’t allow technology to eclipse what is innately human in our connections. The modern marketing team CREATIVE A creative lead will direct everything related to the brand. They often work across many teams – including executive leadership – and understand the nuances of project management. MARKETING OPERATIONS Marketers in operations regularly produce reports with key metrics on marketing and sales activity that inform strategy across the company. Their work involves monitoring website traffic, SEO, marketing automation and CRM, and data analysis. PRODUCT MARKETING A product marketer crafts the marketing strategy for new product launches. Their daily activities overlap across several departments or groups, and they interact regularly with teammates and partners. DEMAND GENERATION / FIELD MARKETING Demand generation marketers are responsible for understanding what activities increase customer volumes. Their goal is to convert interested, qualified leads into successful customers. CONTENT MARKETING Content marketers write and produce different types of content (white papers, articles, reports, blog posts) to build company reach, awareness, and leads. They need to be creative, pay attention to detail, and excel at project management. Although no one team model fits every company, five roles connect across most modern marketing teams. In many cases, marketing departments are expanding, not shrinking. 1 2 3 4 5
  15. 15. - 15 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report Spotlight Interview - Bendyworks n Connectivity spotlight: How transparency connects employees and fosters a culture of trust One of the reasons I was excited about the email series was the opportunity to glean different answers [from employees] and give them to new employees, so they’d have an idea of who we are as a team and as individuals.” - Brad Grzesiak, co-founder and CEO, Bendyworks “ Brad Grzesiak is the CEO and co-founder of Bendyworks, a Madison, Wisconsin-based company that designs, builds, and fixes digital applications. In May of 2016, Brad started an internal email series with the goal of connecting his employees. He wanted to give them a voice and help them get to know each other better. The series consists of three emails – sent weekly to employees – each with a different focus. One is about what employees are working on, one is company-related, and one is more personal in nature.
  16. 16. - 16 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report Here’s how and why Brad started the emails and the recent positive change he’s seen in employees since they started to engage. Tell us about the “Know Your Company” emails you’re doing at Bendyworks. They are a set of emails that go out to all employees three times a week. The first one goes out on Monday and it’s a question about what you’re working on at the office. The second one is a more company-related question – something like, “Have you ever been afraid to suggest an idea at work because you thought someone might shoot it down?” That type of question. The third one goes out on Friday, and is more of a personal question to get to know people on an individual basis. A question like, “Have you seen any good movies lately that you recommend?” The submitters have the option to send a response only to me, as the owner of these emails, but I’m not sure anyone has actually ever done that. They share their responses with everyone. But the option is there to privately reply back to me. Know Your Company is actually a service we pay for, so all the responses get collated and at about the same time as the next question goes out. The previous answers are posted for everyone to see if they’d like. Why did you start these emails? We started because my business partner was using a service in another group that basically did the same thing. It sent out emails to all the group members so that they could all get to know each other a bit better. It’s a little different for a company getting to know its employees, but it worked really well in the other group, so he suggested we start doing it here. Do you regularly evaluate your employee’s responses? I read through the summary emails every time they come out, three times a week. It’s pretty quick. People are not writing novels, which is good for reading time spent. Usually, it’s just a sentence; sometimes it’s three or four, but most often it’s just one. Do you discuss these responses out loud or are they only shared through the system? We have not discussed them in any sort of structured way other than introducing the emails when we first started. How did you introduce the emails? The Know Your Company website has a very good onboarding process that talks about how to get your team’s buy in. We followed that, which started with a week of icebreaker questions to get people used to the idea first. The CEO of Know Your Company is also very open. She gives out her email address. If you ever want to email her or video chat with her, she’s open to that. She’s also recorded a number of videos that walk you through the process, and they make those videos available to the employees as well. We started in May, so we’re still getting the hang of it. We haven’t yet experienced the long-term effects of what it might mean. It’s been more of the short-term stuff that we’re experiencing so far. Do you have a sense of what the emails have done for employee moral? It has improved. One of the reasons I was excited about it when we started this was the opportunity to glean the different answers and give them to new employees, so they’d have an idea of who we are as a team and who we are as individuals. We haven’t had any new hires since we started, but I expect that with our next hire we’ll be able to do that. Do you feel like the Know Your Company emails are reflective of your culture? Yeah, I think it’s very reflective of us as a company. We try to be a transparent company and, over the years, we’ve learned that means practicing an effective way of openness as opposed to an ineffective way of being open. The ineffective way is basically saying to our employees, “If you want to know something, just ask and we’ll tell you.” It’s not very effective because oftentimes people don’t know what to ask. And it sets up a power dynamic of having to almost beg for information.
  17. 17. - 17 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report Instead, we found it more effective to reach out to employees and either give that information or, in the case of the emails, encourage them to participate more and be a part of the company’s communication. What outcomes have you seen so far? While it’s new and I can’t really quantify hard data, I have come across conversations that probably wouldn’t have happened otherwise, specifically around the Friday question – the one that allows employees to get to know each other on a personal level. [I’ve learned about] things like books people are reading or movies people watched recently. The service provides questions for you to ask, if you want them, but the service automatically asks recipient if they have any other questions they’d like to add to the hopper, too. Today’s question, which was a personal question, was “Where do you want to retire?” Do you think your employees are connecting in new ways because of these emails? Yes. The emails that are the most encouraging are the Friday questions. Rather than what you’ve read or seen recently, these are fun questions about things from the past. For example, there’s one that almost everyone answered, which was, “What’s your earliest memory?” That was fun to go through. Another cringe-worthy one was, “What was your favorite band 10 years ago?” As I look through employee answers, I can see that some questions are answered by only 20% of our company and others by 80%-90%. Some are a bit more exciting for people to answer, and others don’t resonate. That’s totally fine; we set the expectation that it’s okay to not participate. Do you see this evolving in the future? It would be really interesting to have a similar setup with our clients. As a service-based company, we have a few clients at any given time. It would be great to get to know our client stakeholders a bit better. What advice would you give to other organizations who want to implement something like this at their company? This is a service, and we were a bit hesitant at the beginning to engage in it. We had a very different business model than other companies using it. There’s an upfront fee for each employee and it’s free after that for each employee. So when you first start, depending on the size of the company, it can be a pretty big cash outlay, but after that you don’t have to pay any more until you add new employees. And you get to hold on to the data forever. The biggest obstacle was that sticker shock when we started doing it, but the payoff has been worth it. The ineffective way [of being transparent] is basically saying to our employees, “If you want to know something, just ask and we’ll tell you.” It’s not very effective because oftentimes people don’t know what to ask. And it sets up a power dynamic of having to almost beg for information. - Brad Grzesiak, Co-founder and CEO, Bendyworks “
  18. 18. - 18 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report 81%of our interview participants say being collaborative means the inclusion of many ideas, perspectives, and disciplines. 62%of survey respondents want to maintain work connections in person over email, text, or web/video conferencing. Part 2 nn Collaboration is a core component of connectivity When we hear the word “collaboration,” most of us think about working in a group. But our research shows that collaboration for marketers and creatives goes one step further. It means interacting with others on a personal level to create something greater than what we can build on our own. Collaboration is freeing and drives forward movement. It gives teams a common line of sight and promotes camaraderie, respect, accountability, and productivity.
  19. 19. - 19 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report “Collaboration is when we can work on something, a joint effort together, where we’re more than the sum of our parts. And to me, that is most pronounced when I can do it in person. I happen to believe there’s a real magic that happens in the room that gets lost when you do it virtually.” - Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Advisor, Content Marketing Institute “When you can’t see expression and body language, how can you tell if people are energized or if what you’ve presented is clicking? If a presentation went over well? Or if we’re thinking things through too much?” - Director of Marketing, Medical technology manufacturer “ The best collaboration tends to happen in person where you can see facial expressions, hear tone of voice, and experience the energy of back and forth dialogue. In-person collaboration evokes emotion that’s often missing in virtual environments. Our research identified collaboration as a defining characteristic of connectivity, specifically in the workplace. 52% of our online survey respondents indicate that the best way to achieve a sense of connection at work is to collaborate with co-workers. When participants feel connected, they’re sharing information, ideas, and opinions with their teammates. The nature of collaboration deserves extra attention. 81% of our interview participants say being collaborative means including many ideas, perspectives, and disciplines in a dialogue. They felt this consideration of diverse viewpoints leads to more creative ideas because it opens the lines of communication, moves projects and business forward, and promotes free thinking. Notably, 76% of interview participants believe that the most successful collaboration happens in person because body language, tone, and facial expressions are expressed and understood. Other researchers have found this preference for in-person connection. In the Q1 2016 Randstad Workmonitor survey, 89% of respondents (globally) say a face-to-face meeting is the best way to interact with someone.7 Working together, face to face, eliminates delays from web conferences and misinterpretations from email. Sharing thoughts, feeding off of others’ input, and building something great together drives momentum and consensus at a faster pace than working separately. And close proximity promotes respectful dialogue, which our respondents felt made their teams more functional Face-to-face collaboration of interview participants believe that the most successful collaboration happens in person. 76%
  20. 20. - 20 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report Ultimately, connectivity has a lot to do with trust. From our research, we’ve concluded that trust is the magic behind successful collaboration. Interestingly, while 62% of survey respondents want to maintain work connections in person, only 8% say being connected means being in a physical space with others. This may point to something many interview participants stated: That multi-phased collaboration could be especially effective. This approach would involve things like: • Sharing prep work online, in advance • Establishing strategy and expectations in person • Managing content execution via email or phone How marketers and creatives collaborate at the office From brief, spontaneous meetings throughout the week to short, scheduled meetings on the calendar, our research participants are getting more benefit from shorter and fewer meeting times. Uniting team members in the moment with brief updates and dialogue provides an opportunity to work in sprints and problem solve on the fly. Stand-ups, huddles, and check-ins A stand-up or huddle is a brief, scheduled time to “stand up” and share work updates with your immediate team. Check-ins are unscheduled stops in people’s offices. Both are opportunities for managers to say hi, see how things are progressing, and keep projects on deadline. 54% of survey respondents say by collaborating with co-workers 54% 7% What is the best way to achieve a feeling of connection at work? How important is being connected to a professional community? 56% Somewhat 27% Very 17% Not at all 83%Say somewhat or very important Yet only 7% rank being part of a team or group as a top way to be connected. In-person collaboration evokes emotion and energy.
  21. 21. - 21 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report “Truly collaborative teams, organizations, and ultimately companies, are ones that are humble enough to recognize that great ideas can come from anywhere and then to structure their teams accordingly so that happens on a daily basis.” - Mike Pilarz, Content Marketing Evangelist, LinkedIn “I like it when someone sends information online before we have a conversation – when thoughts are put out there online and then we talk more about them in person together. With that kind of preparation, it’s easier to come to a decision quickly. And we can cut off any issues that arise in person.” - Matt Helf, Digital Strategist “We have short, taskforce meetings to reiterate status and to understand the project details. They really help us stay connected at work. Our weekly planning meeting is also critical for projects to stay on track and for the team to have transparency into everything that everyone is doing.” - Senior Design Manager, Global food and beverage manufacurer (focused in the nutrition portfolio) “We’re so overburdened with email at the organization that we find it works better to get everybody in the room together and physically have a conversation. Then we can email or video conference later about the project – once it’s been initiated and discussed in person.” - Brand Marketing Director, North American apparel and fashion company “
  22. 22. - 22 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report 89%of respondents from Randstad’s 2016 global report believe a face-to-face meeting is the best way to interact with someone. Taskforce, planning meetings Planning and taskforce meetings are scheduled blocks of time designed to walk through tasks, deadlines, responsibilities, and gaps in plans. How marketers and creatives collaborate outside the office Our research suggests that small groups and micro communities are making a comeback. Communities are important catalysts for collaboration. Participants don’t want to be “sold to” at larger networking events or conferences. They want to learn something new, share ideas in a casual setting (with food and drinks), and gain actionable practices they can apply to their work. Smaller, informal gatherings offer an opportunity for authentic connections to form quickly. Authentic connections lead to trust, and trust leads to community building. Our respondents are involved in informal and formal groups, both online and in person. Informal peer meetups Marketing and creative peers are forming small groups on their own time to discuss strategy, consumer insights, current trends, and pressing business topics. These groups typically meet informally, off site, with no schedule or formal agenda. People are typically invited via their professional network. Our interview participants prefer the small setting to formal meetups because they can solve problems together without feeling competitive. Some interviewees referred to these groups as their “peer lifelines” – the people they count on to validate ideas or provide supplement information. They rely on that short list of experts in professional and personal situations. Professional, formalized communities Despite the trend toward informal gatherings, our research indicates that formal communities still provide tremendous value. Both online or through associations, our interview participants join professional communities to foster career growth and knowledge sharing. We asked survey respondents how important being connected to a professional community was to the satisfaction and growth of their careers. 83% feel it is very or somewhat important. In terms of what marketers and creatives want from a vendor-led What do marketers want from a vendor-led customer community? 33% 22% 20% 13% 12% Best practices Easy outreach Training Customer interaction 1-on-1 vendor time What do marketers want from an online community? of our survey respondents want expert-led sessions that cover overcoming challenges and solving problems. 54%
  23. 23. - 23 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report “We have a team huddle every afternoon for 30 minutes. There’s not always a clear agenda; it’s just a chance for us to connect and know where our priorities are for the week.” - Director of Marketing, Medical technology manufacturer “I prefer to do a drive by at the office. That’s when I just pop in someone’s office to see how things are going. I like a hands-on, spontaneous type of environment where we can talk about projects without having to schedule a meeting.” - Corporate Vice President, National life insurance company “I had weekly huddles right out in the hallway of the open area. We also had three-hour meetings where we went through the strategic plans, big initiatives, sales meetings, and leadership meetings that my team never got to see, so everybody felt connected to the overall picture.” - Marketing Director, North American food and beverage company “I have a couple of groups that I meet with that are informal and made up of creatives. One we call our Creative Fight Club, because ‘we’re not supposed to talk about it.’ We get together and discuss projects we’re working on and give each other feedback. It’s nice to get an outside perspective in an unstructured way.” - John Bistalfo, Founder, Bark Design “
  24. 24. - 24 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report community, 32% of online survey respondents look for sharing of best practices, while 22% want easy outreach anytime, and 20% want training specific to their needs. 13% are interested in interacting with other customers, and 12% feel one-on-one time with the vendor is important. What does a community need to offer to be worth a marketing or creative professional’s time? 42% of interview participants say they want highly relevant content – learnings or experiences that apply to their job in the real world. Online communities These include Facebook professional groups, industry groups, LinkedIn groups, and online meet-ups. Marketers join these communities by invite. There is a sense of exclusivity, but no real structure or timeframe. From an online community, 54% of our survey respondents say they are interested in expert-led sessions that cover how to overcome a challenge or solve a problem. Industry-related organizations and associations Organizations like the American Marketing Association, the Business Marketing Association, and other trade-focused organizations provide easy access to thought leaders, industry experts, topical discussions, and best practices. These communities are open to anyone, but you often must pay to attend or become a member. Our research demonstrates that valuable connections often develop through collaboration, which takes many forms. These include conversations, meetings, and events that happen formally and informally, in and out of the office, and often involve meals, coffee, car rides, or cocktails. Such experiences facilitate communication, create the potential for more creative work, and nurture peer communities. Collaboration is most effective in person because face-to- face interactions produce trust. Trust is the magic behind successful collaboration.“I’m part of groups that are professional in nature and exclusive. They’re very niche and not noisy. A couple are professional Facebook groups. One is a speakers group with a total of 110 people in it. Every time I see somebody post in that group, I go there because I know whatever’s there is going to be worth my time.” - Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Advisor, Content Marketing Institute “I’ve had some really great conversations at conferences where you get good ideas from people about different things they’re doing. Things you haven’t tried and different ways of doing them. Those conversations are fantastic.” - Michol Banes, Marketing Manager, Baker Tilly “
  25. 25. - 25 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report Spotlight Interview - ERDMAN nn Connectivity spotlight: Making time to connect and create Jenne Meyer is the vice president of brand at ERDMAN, a planning, design, and construction company specializing in health care facilities. Each month, her marketing team dedicates time off site to simply being creative. They leave the office and traditional meeting agendas behind, to find a place where they can work together, feel inspired to ideate, and have fun. This time connecting as a team is called is a monthly co-lab. Here’s what they do at co-labs and Jenne’s advice on how you can get started with one at your organization, too. I prefer to start face- to-face to make sure everybody has the right expectations and knows what we’re doing and who we have to work with. And when they have questions along the way, connect via email.” - Jenne Meyer, Ph.D., VP of Brand, ERDMAN “
  26. 26. - 26 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report How did your monthly co-labs originate? One time we talked in our meetings about how we could formalize brainstorming time because oftentimes in marketing, we’re so busy either doing something or putting together a presentation that we forget to build in the creative time we need. I suggested we formalize it and talk through what it could be. So it’s a team idea that happened in a meeting and I just formalized it by putting it on the calendar. People agreed it would be good to do these brainstorms once a month. We’ve now been doing this since November of last year. What happens in these co-labs? It’s different every time. We take suggestions from everyone on the team, so when we have a creative co-lab coming up, we’ll ask if there’s something specific anyone wants to do. Sometimes we’ll walk around the block. Sometimes we’ll go to Starbucks. One time we were having a discussion about color, so we all grabbed coffee and hung out in a paint store. The location and the topic are very organic. And the location sometimes depends on what the topic is. So when we were having a debate about color, it made sense to go to a paint store. The goal is to give our team time away from the everyday things to gain inspiration for brainstorming. Who attends your co-labs? The creative team or a variety of people? The invite list is everybody in my department (marketing), or who’s been in my department in the past, or who’s somewhat connected to my department. The typical players include the marketing communications lead, the market research analyst, our graphic designer, and sometimes we have guests – we call them marketing friends – who used to be in our department and then moved on, but still join us. There’s somebody in sales who often comes, an RFP and events program manager, and a friend in IT operations that sometimes joins. Is there any output from the co-labs? Again, it depends. We try to keep it very organic, so one time somebody shared an idea about a video that one of their friends put together. And the concept was so cool, we actually turned around and created an animated video that we could use in a conference that was inspired by the style of the video that was shared. The output was essentially some action items to follow up on, who could do this, putting together some content, and then we actually did a video. For the color discussion, we had a bagful of paint chips and then we presented our color recommendations to the executives and basically came out with an agreed color palette for our brand guidelines. It’s very organic. We touch on a hot topic of the day, something cool somebody once saw or did. Sometimes it gets a little silly and perhaps we just go for coffee. There are times when we don’t have a lot of structure. The last time we ended up going to Smoothie King and watched YouTube videos of cats having brain freeze, so it’s not always as productive, but it’s a time we dedicate to stay creative and goof off with a purpose, so to speak. From a connectivity standpoint, do you feel getting out of the office allows you all to connect in a way that you aren’t able to do otherwise? Yes, we do. It’s interesting because we (ERDMAN) measure our culture and our employee satisfaction quite a bit, and the marketing team has the highest employee satisfaction rate and the most ideal employee culture. It’s constructive. The co-lab allows us to connect. It allows us to share ideas. And to do it in different ways than we might normally do otherwise.
  27. 27. - 27 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report It sounds very egalitarian, like anybody can come up with an idea. Yes. It’s funny. I think of it as a very specific leadership and team building tactic. I’m not sure other people see it that way. They just see it as, oh, the marketing team is up to something again. And I’m okay with that quite honestly. What tips or advice would you have for teams who want to do this at their own organization? Give it enough structure that it becomes valuable without turning it into another meeting with an agenda. So basically the structure is setting up the time to do it once a month, but keeping the organic element. That’s been really been beneficial – to keep it creative versus just another meeting. Don’t try and add something else into it. I would also say let other people take over. The egalitarian part of it is what drives some of the benefit, so if somebody has an idea, let them run with it. You need enough structure to make sure it happens, but not too much that it takes away from the organic creativity that comes from it. And last, I’d say keep it a separate meeting from other team meetings you have. Every quarter we talk about our goals and initiatives and how we’re doing. Then every week we have a 15-minute huddle to talk about things that need to get done that particular week. Don’t confuse a co-lab with other things or it will inhibit the creativity. Who owns it? We all do. Somebody different can lead it each month and check in to see what ideas everybody has. And people will come to meetings. So another example. We were launching our new website, and the marketing coordinator said he needed everybody to bring a computer tablet and mobile phone and go off site to test our website on different platforms to see if it works. So we all went to Starbucks and tested it, then came back to the office. The website worked. So the ideas can come from anywhere. The egalitarian part of it is what drives some of the benefit as well, so if somebody has an idea, let them run with it.” - Jenne Meyer, Ph.D., VP of Brand, ERDMAN“
  28. 28. - 28 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report Part 3 nnn Taking a break from connectivity is necessary to maintain balance The average consumer has access to a multitude of digital devices at every minute of any given day. 60% of our online survey respondents cite a smartphone as the top device they use to stay connected. We’re in bed with our mobile phones – literally – so they’ve become the hub and center of our lives. But to what end? 86%of our interview participants would prefer a “happy medium” between a very integrated solution and a mix of solutions.
  29. 29. - 29 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report Connectivity can inspire greatness, but there are two sides to the coin. We can be too connected... technologies (too many tools and devices) our teams (too many meetings and nothing gets done) processes (too many processes defeats efficiency) data (monitoring too often makes it difficult to measure) To best connect with ourselves, our work, and our community, people need the discipline to disconnect from their devices. We need down time to let our minds wander, inspire creativity, and keep balance in our lives. nnn Mobile technology could be the modern professional’s biggest blessing and biggest curse. It can facilitate work from anywhere, at anytime, bringing efficiency to a range of workflows. However, because these devices have the capacity to connect around the clock, they often blur the boundary between work and downtime. Sometimes people just need to disconnect. As creativity expert Gaia Grant writes, “Creative thinking requires a relaxed state, the ability to think through options at a slow pace, and the openness to explore different alternatives without fear.”8 So how have we become this connected to our digital tools? Perhaps people hope that more technologies will deliver more efficiencies. We asked our interview participants to identify the greatest challenges they experience with their marketing content and the top answers fell into three categories: • Bandwidth to create content (43%) • Creating valuable content (33%) • Measuring the ROI of content (13%) What if disconnecting is also essential to addressing these challenges? Our research participants cite several pros and cons. “For shutting out the world, I literally need the discipline to disconnect. Disconnecting is taking the time to sit by yourself and be comfortable with yourself. It’s probably the most important time I spend because it’s when I come up with anything interesting I have to say.” - Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Advisor Content Marketing Institute “From a content perspective, it’s harder than ever to stand out. Quality content always wins, but there’s the continued challenge of quantity over quality. To produce a high level of quality content is a big time and people investment.” - Matt Helf, Digital Strategist “ What is the greatest challenge you experience with the marketing content you need to get done? 33% Creating content that’s valuable 13% Measuring content ROI 43%Bandwidth to create content
  30. 30. - 30 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report The pros of connecting Connections make people and information more accessible Our research participants value accessibility. Being connected allows us to communicate with people and obtain files and documents we need – anywhere, regardless of time zone or location. Connections integrate systems, processes, and people When technologies connect data and talk to each other, they can make systems, people, and processes more efficient. 86% of our interview participants said they would prefer a “happy medium” between a very integrated solution and a mix of solutions, where things “feel connected” rather than actually integrate at an operational level. This means tools should sync with each other, but not necessarily as a single solution from a single vendor. It’s the experience that participants want to feel seamless. This could be accomplished through single sign-on, a similar looking UI, or devices that sync (e.g., Dropbox on phone, desktop, and tablet). Connections complete the big picture It’s easy to get caught up in the daily tactics of our work, to become siloed on a team, or to feel isolated in our individual checklists. Feeling connected to the higher value of an organization helps people understand how those tactics support top-level goals. Connection also encourages a sense of working together for a greater good. The cons of connecting Connections can make people and information too accessible The ability to connect 24/7 has placed an unrealistic expectation on marketers to always be available. Knowing that we’re able to connect any time has enabled co- workers, peers, customers, and vendors to push the boundaries of accessibility and impose on personal bandwidth, time, and resources. Preoccupation with connection can inhibit productivity Too many communications, processes, and systems, can create a fear-driven attachment to our digital tools. The fear of missing an email, tweet, post, or text defeats our ability to stay on top of things. It can tap our resources (people and time) and actually prevent us from getting work done. Only 8% of online survey respondents say that being connected means learning new tools or techniques. Marketers and creatives are already drowning in the flood of tools available to them, yet more solutions and applications keep cropping up. What is the top device you use today to stay connected? 20% Laptop 60% Smartphone 15% Desktop 5% Tablet People need down time to let their mind wander and inspire creativity. What does being connected mean to you? of our online survey respondents say being connected means learning new tools or techniques. 8%
  31. 31. - 31 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report “If your day is broken into a 60-minute meeting, then 30-minutes to work, a 90-minute meeting, and 60-minutes to work, then three back-to-back meetings, the brain doesn’t have a chance to warm up. I like the philosophy Google has called Managers Versus Makers. They’re advocating for people to lock-in half day chunks where they devote a 4-hour block to creativity. I’m all for that.” - Mike Pilarz, Content Marketing Evangelist, LinkedIn “Too many tools lead to martech overload, which is as overwhelming as not enough martech. You’ve got to find that balance. Too many apps, tabs, and disconnected data will be about enough to drive anyone to a point of feeling paralyzed in their work.” - Jake Athey, Director of Marketing, Widen “ Pros CONNECTED OR TOO CONNECTED? Cons
  32. 32. - 32 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report Too many connections can confuse marketing measurement Marketers need to show how they contribute to the company’s bottom line, but tracking, analyzing, and too much data too often isn’t the best or most accurate way. We need to establish goal-oriented metrics before we try new things, and measure against those goals. The impact of constant connection on self-reflection and the Internet of Things MIT professor Sherry Turkle suggests that if we connect too much, or allow the human aspects of our connections (conversations, coffee dates, and lunch meetings) to be eclipsed by digital aspects (email, social media, etc.), we set ourselves up for trouble. Connectivity influences how we relate to ourselves and to each other.9 The boundaries of connectivity are likely to expand beyond human beings. The internet is connecting objects, places, and artificial beings into one system. This “Internet of Things” is bringing in a wave of multichannel marketing opportunities with significant implications for customer experience.10 According to research from Gartner, “Through a range of devices with IP addresses – smart home products, connected vehicles and wearable technology – the Internet of Things will be able to connect almost every facet of a person’s life at home and at work. These connections will enable digital marketers, in particular, to build valuable services tailored to the individual’s context – where the customer is or is going, what the customer does or likes, and who the customer knows. The Internet of Things will give marketers multiple opportunities to recognize and even anticipate future wants and needs, and gain advantages over competitors.”11 Identifying a healthy boundary between plugged-in and unplugged will be an ongoing challenge for marketing and creative professionals. Our research respondents agreed that although technology can create efficiencies, too much technology can negatively affect everything from creative processes and measurement strategies to human health and happiness. No matter how digital devices and tools will shape our lives in years to come, unplugging will be essential to nurturing our connections at work and at home. “ “One thing to note is that we can be too connected. It’s a problem. Our team has access to internal analytics in real time for our sales and marketing programs, and we can get in the habit of checking them too often. When we do that, it’s not meaningful for our team.” - Director of Marketing, Medical technology manufacturer “Will we have a break? Will we truly be able to take a break mentally or will we always be looking at the screen in front of us? There’s a danger to being constantly connected.” - Senior Design Manager, Global food and beverage manufacturer (focused in the nutrition portfolio)
  33. 33. - 33 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report “I love the interconnectedness of all my devices. I have my desktop, laptop, and smartphone synced, so the calendars interact. It’s amazing that I can keep a professional and a personal calendar, and my wife and kids can see it, and they all know when I’m traveling and when I’m not. It helps keep your own business to dos, but also integrates with the people who matter most.” - Victor Mills, President, Connect Insights “My emails and text messages can pile up when I’m traveling, but then I also tend to put things off that aren’t mission critical when I’m away. For those things that are mission critical, I’m not distracted by anything else while I’m on the road, so I can hyper focus on what’s really important. If it’s not a top three priority, it can wait until I’m home.” - Ashley Powell, Business Development Manager, Bendyworks “Marketers want right answers. I see people a little scared sometimes until they connect to all the information that makes them comfortable. Sometimes you just need to move. React, and if you’re going to fail, then fail smartly and quickly.” - Marketing Director, North American food and beverage company “I make an effort not to get back to clients over the weekend, if possible, so there can be that personal space that everybody seems to encroach on. After 7:00 at night, I typically won’t reply to an email. Sometimes, I wish that people weren’t so constantly connected.” - John Bistalfo, Founder, Bark Design “
  34. 34. - 34 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report Spotlight Interview - LinkedIn nnn Connectivity spotlight: Content that solves your audience’s problems can build a direct connection Mike Pilarz is a content marketing evangelist at LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network with more than 450 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the globe. There, he leads customer marketing and internal training programs that help LinkedIn clients become better content marketers. Generally speaking, content that tends to be successful is content that’s grounded in the pain point or passion of an audience. Success is also being responsible about the expertise within your company and understanding how you can leverage that expertise to solve those pain points or deliver on the passion of your audience.” - Mike Pilarz, Content Marketing Evangelist, LinkedIn “
  35. 35. - 35 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report Mike has observed first hand how search, social, and mobile have disrupted the way marketers reach, engage, and convert prospects and customers. His consultative approach has helped many marketing professionals transition into the world of content marketing. Here’s his perspective on building an audience around content that solves problems. Can you talk about the importance of setting goals in order to measure the effectiveness of your content? That’s a critical first step in launching or redefining any content marketing program – thinking through what you need to achieve as a business – before you even get to marketing goals. Ask yourself things like, “What are the priorities that keep the CEO up at night?” And, “How do we as a marketing organization plan to help address them?” Then finally, “Where are the breakdowns or the weaknesses in our funnel?” Thinking about what you need to achieve will help you prioritize how to structure your content strategy. How can marketers tell if their content is successful? Do you have any examples you can share? Here at LinkedIn, our content marketing program is focused on solving common pain points that matter to our audiences. For our marketing customers, that manifests itself through an ongoing series of eBooks, blog posts, podcasts and a range of other content all aimed at common challenges marketers face: strategic planning, creative techniques, staffing, testing and optimizing marketing, etc. As a result, 73% of our marketing qualified leads now come directly from content. There are countless other great examples. American Express launched OPEN Forum to address the needs of the small business community via content. It’s now become the single largest source of new leads within that buying segment. What key metrics should marketers look at to measure their content and how often should they measure? It all starts by going back to your original objectives and being crystal clear about what you’re trying to achieve, whether that’s an increase in brand awareness, demand generation, customer retention, etc. It sounds like such basic advice, but it’s amazing how often that question doesn’t get asked. Are you launching a new product or a new brand, and the main priority is simply joining the conversation to become part of the consideration set? Or is the main problem that you’ve been around longer and there might be a negative perception of one of your products or brand overall? Or are you starting to see people drop out of the funnel at the opportunity stage? Honing in on what you’re actually solving for is the only way you get at the metrics to look at. Your metrics should then align back to those objectives. What questions can help you create a content feedback pipeline? 1. Ask your customer service team: Of the calls you got this week, what were the top four or five questions asked? 2. Ask your sales team: What pain points and challenges are you hearing from clients? These may not necessarily be related to use of your product, but in terms of what they’re trying to solve for as professionals. 3. Ask your marketing team: What keywords are buyers and prospects using to research your product or service? Which ones do you have the expertise to deliver content on?
  36. 36. - 36 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report So, it goes beyond clicks and likes and things like that? Definitely. At the top of the funnel, you should be looking at metrics like traffic, time on site, engagement in social channels, etc. But you also need to translate those metrics into true outcomes. Sophisticated content marketers are measuring brand perception amongst email newsletter subscribers, for example, vs. audiences that don’t subscribe to their content. This gives you an opportunity to demonstrate that your content made a positive impact at the top of the funnel. And if your goal is demand generation, take a look at what percentage of your leads each month or quarter are coming from content vs. other sources, the speed with which content-sourced leads accelerate through the funnel, and the customer lifetime value of those leads. Think of it as a rent-to-own strategy, whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, social channels, search, or any other channel where you have an opportunity to reach an audience. You want to use that to pull people into your funnel by getting them to “subscribe” to your content. Ideally, you get your hands on an email address, then you can go direct with your content. In terms of how often to measure: I can’t tell you everybody should just be measuring quarterly. That’s not really going to be helpful. The key is having the right metrics – ones that are intelligently aligned to the goals you’re trying to solve for. With vanity metrics that are out there, you’re going to have an opportunity to measure things every single day – like likes and follows. Those things are important, but the true bottom line metrics we use in closed deals in the B2B world take a while to generate. When you’re talking about high-ticket price B2B solutions and products, the sales cycles can often last a year and a half or more, so you need the patience to realize that. The top funnel metrics hopefully become leading indicators of a bottom line, bottom funnel outcome, but again, that often takes a while. What questions do marketers want to start asking their audiences in order to get the feedback pipeline going? Start by going to your customer service teams and saying, “Of the calls you got this week, what were the top four or five questions you got?” That’s a massively valuable input for understanding what customers are trying to solve for.
  37. 37. - 37 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report question – “What are the pain points, what are the challenges that you’re hearing from clients, not necessarily related to use of our product, but in terms of what are they trying to solve for as professionals?” That’s an often overlooked but simple, easy source of rich data. Then do some keyword research. See what keywords buyers and prospects are using to research and that you have the expertise to deliver content on. Do the same thing with your sales team. Ask them the same All of those things are great resources to help you understand what your customers or clients are thinking about and trying to solve for, and to help you shape content that delivers on those topics. What advice or tips would you give marketers to get started creating good content? Resist the temptation to chase after every shiny object, whether that’s emerging media types, new channels or techniques. Start with one or two content destinations - maybe just a blog - and focus on consistently delivering quality answers to the the pain points you hear from your customers. Use the metrics we discussed above as a guide to find out what’s working and what isn’t, then optimize. Additionally, content marketing fails when marketers try to transfer the same mindset, approach, and techniques from traditional marketing over to content marketing. Traditional marketing, especially traditional advertising, is really focused on the brand. Content marketing only works if it’s entirely focused on the audience where you think about what they’re passionate about and how you can help them solve a problem. It’s also important to remember that content marketing cannot be a campaign. Instead, it’s a slow, steady progression of publishing, audience building and nurturing those audiences into customers. If you think about the traditional campaign-based marketing, you have these short bursts of activity where you garner massive attention. But all you’re really doing is temporarily renting that attention. With content marketing, we have an opportunity to build our own audience who doesn’t just tolerate hearing from us, but actually opts in to hearing from us because we’re delivering value by creating content they seek in the first place. If you make the commitment to build an audience – and there’s no limit to the size of the audience you can build – then you don’t need to rent your audience’s attention. It’s yours. You definitely have to continue to earn it by delivering valuable content, but it’s yours to continue to deliver on. Do a couple of pieces of content really well rather than ten pieces poorly or even mediocre, because the reality is no one’s opening up their LinkedIn feed or their inbox and saying, “Man, I wish I had more content in here to sort through.” - Mike Pilarz, Content Marketing Evangelist, LinkedIn “
  38. 38. - 38 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report Where will connectivity go in the future? A central dilemma of our connected world is the conflict between tech and touch. Connecting is a physical human need, just like eating food or staying warm. Yet, many analysts agree that we’re moving towards a ubiquitous digital connectivity that goes beyond a network of laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Inexpensive digital sensors and cloud computing will fuel the “Internet of Things” and extend digital connectivity to previously analog tasks, processes, and service operations.12 68% of our interview participants see the future becoming more digital and more virtual. However, they express a mixture of optimism and pessimism about this trajectory. What does this mean for marketing and creative professionals? From the perspective of our research, the future of connectivity entails more data, more authenticity, and more community. Marketers will have to find the common ground between digital and human experience. Marketers will consult data to discern what messages and experiences motivate people to use or not use their products and services. At a strategic level, data will give marketers and creatives the opportunity to put quality over quantity – to focus on why we create content and define what “good” content is. At a business level, data will improve how we make decisions about budgets, resource allocation, and technology stacks. And at a creative level, data will guide our creative instincts towards more meaningful content. In essence, data will complement human intelligence rather than replace it. Data aside, marketers will continue to face the challenges of scale, noise, and relationship building. Ultimately, customers must reciprocate our desire to connect. We need to deliver experiences that stand out for their authenticity and power to evoke thoughts, ideas, and feelings. Marketing and creative professionals should expect demand for micro-communities that support the end user or consumer. Micro-communities are on the rise for the same reason that micro breweries are in a golden age. Small, niche experiences fulfill a need for social awareness, inspiration, and a passionate following. Closing thoughts Every marketing initiative, brand position, or user experience reflects the challenges, goals, and dreams of real people. Digitization does not relieve marketers of their responsibility to nurture connectivity and imbue commerce with meaning. Technologies can support this mission as long as we recognize their limitations. Everyone wants life to be simple, but not necessarily easy. The challenge of connecting and collaborating with each other for the greater good is fulfilling. As Sherry Turkle urged, let’s focus on ways “technology can lead us back to our real lives, our own bodies, our own communities, our own politics, our own planet.”13 Let’s embrace the inherent goodness and power of connectivity. Conclusion
  39. 39. - 39 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report “Did you know you can check in to your hotel remotely from your phone? I picked up my key at a kiosk and I threw my key back in the slot when I left. If I hadn’t gotten food, I wouldn’t have seen a single person. Then the hotel sent me a survey asking how my stay and the interaction was with their people. I couldn’t even answer how the interaction was because I never talked to anyone. For me that was sad. You still need to sit and talk smart with someone.” - Marketing Director, U.S. food service manufacturer “There are too many things out there that are just bad for us as a society. You can’t be plugged in all the time and think you’re connected because you’re looking at your phone all day long. There are some things, like certain apps that are cool, but they’re not really helping you stay close to your family, to see your friends. You can’t replace human connection.” - Director of Marketing, Medical technology manufacturer “I think the amount of data will increase and the struggle to do something with it will only get harder. There’s so much from a consumer perspective that can be done for message testing and brand testing. Balancing that will become harder. Optimizing the strategy and tactics will be more important.” - Jenne Meyer, Ph.D., VP of Brand, ERDMAN “By 2025, most homes are going to have a robot. We’re moving to an era of complete technology where there might be 1.) a robot in the office or people working with robot advisors, 2.) your phone might be connected directly to your robot at home that you interact with throughout the day, and 3.) when you go home, you have a personal relationship with your robot because that’s where everything goes.” - Greg Yates, Chief Marketing Officer| RICG Neuro-Creative Agency “
  40. 40. - 40 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report The explosion of visual content: Marketing’s greatest creation and toughest challenge Special feature 20 17 n n n n n n The creation of visual content like photos, videos, presentations, and graphics is at an all-time high. Thanks to social media, smartphone cameras, cloud-based applications, and consumers’ shorter attention spans, the demand for great visuals will only rise in the years to come.
  41. 41. - 41 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report In many ways, visual content marketing has been a dream come true for marketers. It has demonstrated that creative work can drive sales, and it has positioned marketing as a revenue generator instead of a cost center. But our research shows there are also a number of challenges marketers and creatives face specific to content. When we asked our online survey respondents the top challenges they face with their marketing content, they rank them as follows: EVERY TIME I GO LOOKING FOR SOMETHING, IT’S A NIGHTMARE. I FEEL LIKE I GO TO THE FOUNDERS AND SAY “I NEED THIS TYPE OF LOGO,” AND THEY DON’T KNOW WHERE TO POINT ME. I’VE ACTUALLY PULLED OUR LOGO OFF OF TWITTER TO USE ON A LEGAL DOCUMENT. - Ashley Powell, Business Development Manager, Bendyworks WITH THE GLOBAL NEEDS FOR CLIENT ASSETS, IT’S IMPERATIVE THAT THERE’S A CENTRAL, COMMON, LIBRARY FOR ALL TO ACCESS. IT’S BEST IF IT’S A CLOUD SOLUTION THAT ALLOWS ACCESS REMOTELY FROM ANY DEVICE. - Digital Asset Management Specialist, Global Ad Agency OUR CHALLENGE IS TO BUILD GOOD CONTENT. AND TO GET THAT REALLY GOOD CONTENT, WE CAN’T USE GHOST WRITERS. THEY HAVE TO KNOW THIS INDUSTRY. - Michol Banes, Marketing Manager, Baker Tilly #1 #2 #3 #4 #5 #6 Measuring the effectiveness of marketing content Finding files and documents needed for projects Keeping track of project approval and review Planning marketing content as a team Creating marketing content ina timely way Sharing content with other who need it 44% of online survey respondents rank “Measuring the effectiveness of your content” as one of their biggest marketing challenges. 44% quote on pg.41 34% quote on pg.44
  42. 42. - 42 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report Our interview participants expanded on the barriers to visual content marketing. Other challenges include: • A lack of “bandwidth” (resources, time) to get work done • Producing good content • Juggling too many marketing activities without clarity about why they’re being done • A lack of skills (writers, designers) and industry expertise in creating content Putting out fires, getting teammates what they need, and marathon meetings can derail big-picture marketing initiatives. So how do marketing and creative professionals find time to focus on the strategy that guides good marketing? Again, it comes back to connecting in ways that help us be our best and work our best. Technology wishlist When asked the open ended question, “Is there a technology you wish you had, but haven’t found yet?” our survey respondents replied unprompted: • Assets and content in one place that is easy for non-technical members of a team to understand • Agile-like asset management allowing for both localization and multiple brands • Better asset retrieval • Simple project tracking method All of these point to a better way to manage and connect marketing content. That is where digital asset management (DAM) solutions can help. DAM is the management, organization, and distribution of digital assets from a central content hub. Most often these are visual assets like photos, videos, and creative files. FINDING THE RIGHT MESSAGE FOR THE RIGHT PERSON AT THE RIGHT TIME IS TOUGH. AND THE DEGREE OF GRANULARITY IS GETTING FINER AND FINER. THERE ARE GREATER EXPECTATIONS ON THE SIDE OF THE CONSUMER, AND GREATER DEMANDS FOR THE MARKETING FUNCTION TO DELIVER ON THOSE EXPECTATIONS. - Sam Mosier, Senior Manager of Global Content Marketing, Level 3 Communications
  43. 43. - 43 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report Widen digital asset management stats over the past three years As a provider of digital asset management solutions, Widen has a 68 year history of creating and managing assets for large and small organizations around the world. Below is a snapshot of the assets we’ve managed in recent years. 2014 2016 2015 8.4m assets across all customer DAM sites (336 customers) 107 API integrations with other customer tools (e-commerce, CMS, CRM, etc) 19.3m assets across all customer DAM sites (485 customers) 235 API integrations with other customer tools (e-commerce, CMS, CRM, etc) 10m assets across all customer DAM sites (419 customers) 164 API integrations with other customer tools (e-commerce, CMS, CRM, etc) 33% of interview participants say “creating valuable content” is one of the greatest challenges they experience with their marketing content.
  44. 44. - 44 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report ONE GREAT ADVANTAGE OF CONTENT MARKETING, OR DIGITAL MARKETING, IS THE ABILITY TO ITERATE AND ADAPT ON-THE-FLY. ON THE DIGITAL WEB, YOU CAN TEST A HEADLINE OR COLOR SCHEME AND POTENTIALLY GET SIGNIFICANT BEHAVIORAL DATA AND FEEDBACK IN A MATTER OF DAYS, IF NOT HOURS. BUT YOU’RE ONLY ABLE TO MAKE USE OF THAT IF YOUR TEAM AND YOUR PROCESSES ARE STRUCTURED TO TAKE THAT FEEDBACK AND APPLY IT. - Mike Pilarz, Content Marketing Evangelist, LinkedIn “34% of online survey respondents rank “Finding the files and documents you need” as one of their biggest marketing challenges. 44% quote on pg.41 34% quote on pg.44
  45. 45. - 45 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report effective, quality content thanks to a wider range of DAM analytics that track the efficacy of marketing communications. And by taking a more active role in multichannel distribution, DAM will make content delivery faster and easier. DAM plays a dynamic role in enriching human connections. As we move towards a world that unifies the device in your hand, the watch on your wrist, the shoes on your feet, and the eyeglasses on your face, the notion of channels loses relevance. In this highly-connected world, marketers will need technology that serves as the central source of truth for all visual content. DAM is that mission-critical technology. Where is DAM going in the future? DAM should power the content behind every brand and marketing experience. In the future, DAM will blend into the background of the technology ecosystem. People will interact with a DAM system through platform portals or integrations with their chosen business tools. They may also interact with DAM assets through their phones, watch, eyeglasses, and cars. DAM will become more plug and play than it is currently. We also expect DAM to address three ongoing challenges in content marketing: efficiency, quality, and delivery. DAM will continue to streamline marketing and creative activities and automate work processes. We’ll see marketers create more Specifically, we can expect: A convergence with marketing resource management (MRM), content marketing, web content management (WCM), marketing automation, digital marketing hubs, and other content-fueled marketing technologies powering the customer experience. Portfolios of martech tools that simplify integration and extension of content, tracked across multiple points of distribution Higher expectations for solutions that can scale with speed and cost effectiveness Connected metadata and measurement of content performance across teams, systems, and customer touch points Solutions that facilitate the complete content lifecycle, from planning to publishing with a central content hub Continued fragmentation and acquisition of DAM and content management solutions More differentiation on service, consulting, training, and relationships
  46. 46. - 46 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report Quantitative research results Q: What is the top device you use today to stay connected? Smart phone Tablet Laptop Desktop 61% 5% 20% 15% Q: What is the best way for you to achieve a feeling of connection at work? Access information or content needed for your projects Stay on top of industry trends and news Learn new tools, techniques, or skills Collaborate with co-workers53% 21% 18% 8% Q: How do you most prefer to maintain work connections? Email Web/video conference Phone call Text 4% 4% 4% In person 26% 62% Q: If possible, how integrated would you like your solutions to be? A wide mix, with the best tool/solution for each of your work needs Very integrated Happy medium 31% 26% 43%
  47. 47. - 47 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report Q: What does “being connected” mean to you? Accessing information you need Being with others in a physical space Staying in touch with family and friends Knowing what’s going on/ Staying current Using new tools and technologies Being efficient in your work Being part of a team or group 8% 31% 2% 8% 21% 22% 8% Q: From the list below, what are the two biggest pain points you experience in your daily work as a marketer? Finding files and documents you need for your projects Planning your marketing content as a team Keeping track of project review and approval Sharing content with others who need it Creating marketing content in a timely way 27% 34% 24% 26% 28% Measuring the effectiveness of your content44% Q: As a marketer, what would you want from a vendor-led customer community? Sharing of best practices Training from your vendor specific to your needs Interaction with other customers One-on-one time with your vendor Easy outreach, anytime 31% 21% 12% 22% 13% Q: How would you like service support to provide answers to you about the tools you use? 12% Website 8% Other 4% In app message 45% Email 31% Chat
  48. 48. - 48 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report Q: How important to your job is using social media? 18% 38% 45% Very much Somewhat Not at all Q: What is your company size? < 50 employees 51-1000 employees > 1000 employees 27% 35% 38% Q: Where are you located? 6% 12% 17% 8% New England Middle Atlantic East North Central West North Central South Atlantic East South Central West South Central Mountain Pacific 16% 4% 9% 10% 19% Q: Which tools do you use each day at work? Email marketing Online communication tools Marketing automation File syncing and sharing applications Customer relationship management Digital asset management Content management Project management Social media Web CMS platform 48% 73% 11% 29% 19% 28% 40% 12% 38% 41%
  49. 49. - 49 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report Q: How important is being connected to a professional community for your career growth and satisfaction? Very Somewhat Not at all 27% 55% 18% Q: What would an online community from a vendor need to offer you, as a customer, to be worth your time? Regularly scheduled online discussions (e.g., once a quarter) Facilitation of problems/ solutions, led by experts Networking with other customers in the community A separate in-person component 54% 9% 22% 15% Q: Is there a technology you wish you had, but haven’t found yet? (open-ended question) • A simpler-to-use, web-based meeting software with whiteboard • CRM system with customizable checklists that can be used as a template • More interconnection between different methods of marketing • Instant virtual connectivity • Media buying software for both prurient and broadcast and digital • Automatic transcription and indexing of recorded meetings and hearings • Assets and content in one place, and easy for non-technical members of a team to understand • Agile-like asset management allowing for both localization and multiple brands • Better assets retrieval • Better task management • Simple project tracking method • One platform all manners of conveyance • Low-cost platform to manage all social media content with analytics that will show ROI • X-ray glasses • More integrated systems between marketing, social media, retail sales, and client management • Outreach and connection to future client markets • Locate project information quickly • Assign a score to a campaign on a variety of elements so we can track and compare campaigns over time • Cloud font library to easily share font files between campus computers • Weekly marketing to current and prospective customers that sends them relative information • Voice command system • Touchscreen simple easy to use • A scheduling/planning tool that can generate the outputs I need without a lot of human editing
  50. 50. - 50 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report Qualitative research results 65% Q: What does it mean to you to be connected? Q: How do you feel when you’re connected at work? of interview participants indicate it means shared information and effective communication among teammates. of interview participants feel at ease, a sense of belonging, good, calm, confident or engaged. Other responses include: • Access to work information (emails, files, intranet) • Access to market trends or information • Access to customer information (Are we connecting to the right people? How do they perceive us?) Because they experience: • Shared objectives • Shared wins and losses • Transparency, visibility, and no silos • Shared flow or forward movement with teammates 71% Q: How much overlap do you experience in your personal and work connections? Q: What is the greatest challenge you experience with the marketing content you need to get done? of interview participants say there is a definitve overlap between their personal and work connections. of interview participants indicate their greatest problem is bandwidth or time/resources. Other responses include: • Frequent or definite overlap in technology (social media, email, etc.) • Very small overlap or deliberate effort to keep them separate Other responses include: • Producing valuable, timely, and accurate content • Measuring ROI with quality data 48% 43%
  51. 51. - 51 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report Q: What considerations make you more loyal, or connected, to one work tool than another? Q: How do you prefer to collaborate with others? Q: Is there ever any resistance from your team when adding new technologies to your mix? Q: What does it mean to be collaborative in your work? of interview participants suggest that usability or user interface would make them more loyal to a work tool. of interview participants say they prefer to collaborate in person. of interview participants say they find resistantance to new processes or workflows because they currently have too many technologies. of interview participants say being collaborative means the inclusion of many ideas, perspectives, and/or disiciplines. Other responses include: • Strong customer support • Feels familiar, is similar to tools they use all the time Other responses include: • A mix – e.g., in person up front, followed by digital collaboration. Or in person for internal work and digital collaboration for client work. Other responses include: • Depends on whether the technology helps them do their job better. If it does, they won’t get resistance. If it doesn’t, there is more resistance. • No, they have an open/willing team Other responses include: • Effective communication/keeping everyone informed • Clarity on roles and responsibilities 67% 76% 35% 81%
  52. 52. - 52 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report Q: A range of work tools are used to execute the marketing and creative content we create everyday. How integrated would you like these tools to be: very integrated (a single solution), a wide mix of solutions, or a happy medium somewhere in between? Q: Is there a software tool you wish you had, but haven’t found yet? What does that tool need to do? Q: What do you see as the future of connectivity? Q: What things does a connected, professional community need to offer in order to be worth your time? of interview participants say a happy medium between very integrated and a wide mix of solutions. of interview participants say a project management tool with sophisticated features. of interview participants say it will become more digital and more virtual. of interview participants say highly relevant content, specific to their job. Other responses include: • A single solution Other responses include: • A DAM solution that integrates with a range of other processes and tools • A tool to manage information overload. Something that gathers, organizes, and synthesizes relevant content and data. • A tool to create, manage, modularize, and distribute content Other responses include: • Scary, creepy, data • Less human interaction • Dialing back as a reaction to too much personalization Other responses include: • Networking, relationship building, or face time • A culture of genuine collaboration where there are no sales pitches • Solutions-oriented content to help them ovecome issues or challenges 86% 24% 68% 42%
  53. 53. - 53 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report Outlook email Grammarly Crowdsourcing tools Skype for Business Basecamp Pro Editor Video conferencing Syncing connections Google Docs Acrobat Contently Whiteboards/chart pads Intranet SharePoint Marketo Sprout Social TimeFlux Java Eloqua Wistia Act Em-sphere Tying tactics back to sales Yammer Salesforce Filemaker Microsoft Dynamics OneDrive GoToMeeting IBM Notes Evernote Web conferences Hightail / YouSendIt A/B testing Big whiteboards Box Dropbox Slack GZ Starcom Skype Smartsheet Montly creative co-labs WeTransfer WhassUp iMessage Adobe Analytics Technomic LinkedIn Harvest WebDAM Pivotal Tracker Google Analytics Trello Spredfast HipChat NinjaCat Pinterest TimeFox Google Docs - Kanban Huddle Asana NewsCred Instant message Google Chat HubSpot Digital asset management If you’re looking for tools to add to your mix or hoping to consolidate existing tools by combining several into one, then we’ve got a great list for you. Below are the top tools our research participants are using to automate workflows, open the lines of communication, share brand assets and creative files, and keep projects on track. Marketing & creative tools You can also check out StormID’s great list of the hottest online marketing tools for 2016.
  54. 54. - 54 -2017 Widen Connectivity Report 1. Maria Popova. (November 2013). The science of why our brains are wired to connect. Brainpickings. 2. Amit Lodha. (2015). Generation C: Investing in the connected generation. Fidelity. 3. Marketo. Lead generation? 4. Forrester. (May 25, 2015). Myth busting 101: insights into the b2b buyer journey. 5. Forbes: On Marketing. (2013). 10 surprising marketing job titles for the next 10 years. onmarketing/2013/01/02/10-surprising-marketing-job-titles-for-the-next-10-years/#121a09b44469 6. Papandrea, D. (August 2016). Hire for 4 uncommon content marketing roles. Content Marketing Institute. 7. Randstad. (March 2016). Global report Randstad Workmonitor wave 1, 2016. 8. Grant, A., Grant, G. (2012). Who killed creativity…and how can we get it back? Wrightbooks. 9. Sherry Turkle. (February 2012). Connected, but alone? TED. 10. Gartner. (October 2014). How digital marketers will take advantage of the internet of things. document/2886219?ref=solrResearch&refval=172234812&qid=d427eeccf321e9f1fe40eeda75310750 11. Gartner. (August 2016). Prepare your multichannel marketing for the internet of things. 12. Iansiti, M., Lakhani, k. (November 2014). Digital ubiquity: how connections, sensors, and data are revolutionizing business. Harvard Business Review. 13. Sherry Turkle. (February 2012). Connected, but alone? TED. References
  55. 55. - 55 - 2017 Widen Connectivity Report Widen Enterprises 6911 Mangrove Lane Madison, WI 53713 P: 608-222-1296 E: About Widen Widen is a content technology company. That means we develop solutions for marketers who need to connect their visual content – like photos, videos, graphics, and creative files – for greater visibility and sharing. Organizations of any size can use our DAM solution, the Widen Collective, to power their content from a central source of truth and sync it with the other systems they use every day. Our solutions are trusted by hundreds of thousands of users worldwide like Roche, Trek, Cornell University, New Orleans Tourism Marketing, The Atlanta Falcons, Red Gold Tomatoes, and Yankee Candle. Learn more about Widen at