How Can I Improve My Content Marketing Effectiveness In 2014?

tips for content marketing success

My tried, tested and trusted content marketing blueprint for 2014 success

In 2013 you planned to be more organised about your content marketing. Your intention was to publish more frequent blog posts, grow your social media influence, and improve your discoverability in search in order to attract and engage more customers.

However, as a CEB study shows, 2013 was not the year in which marketers mastered content marketing: “79% of marketers consider content marketing important; yet only 12% feel ready to deliver against it.”

But 2014 can be different for content marketing, and my three golden rules, before you do anything else, are these:

  • Plan for how your audiences are going to discover your content before you spend time and resources creating it. (thanks to Ann Handley for this invaluable advice)
  • Anticipate your readers’ questions before you create and publish anything. Ask yourself: What are their pain points? What are their information needs? What utilitarian content do they seek?
  • Never set a goal without putting a deadline against it. Download an editorial calendar template from Smart Insights.

Then, once you’ve mastered these three rules, follow these 6 essential content marketing steps:

  1. Go deep into topic coverage. Your content marketing needs to go deeper. It needs to drill down into your customers’ core themes, their critical pain points and issues. Make your content more meaningful and relevant to them. Spend time creating a content strategy, without which you will only continue to produce ad hoc marketing content and waste more precious time and money. Going deeper into content works hand in hand with your search engine optimisation (SEO), with your keyword research, and with your Google AuthorRank (Google+), because, when done properly, these efforts collectively drive sustained long term search engine ranking performance (SERP). Aim to produce marketing content that’s actually wanted by your customers, and by that I mean deeper content they will love you for: downloadable guides, PDF eBooks, Video demos, case studies, research papers etc..
  2. Gain deeper insights into customers. Knowledge of customers, their needs and buying cycle, tends to be very shallow and superficial. You need deeper customer insights if you want to engage and convert your audiences online. You need an intimate knowledge of your customer’s buying cycle so that you can plan an effective content strategy, and produce effective lead-generating content. Ironically it’s never been easier than it is now to observe, listen and interact with customers directly. Get the deeper insight into your customers that your competitors don’t have. Interview your buyers or their proxy. Use a tried, tested and trusted interviewing process like the five rings of customer insight.
  3. Set crystal clear metrics for your content marketing. Metrics fall into four buckets: Consumption metrics, share metrics, lead generation metrics and sales metrics. And determining the right metrics depends on defining your goals for your content. Setting clear goals gives you the basis for measurement and evaluation. I don’t expect you to master the Holy Grail of content marketing ROI overnight, but content ROI is a top priority for marketers in 2014, so keep your eyes peeled, and follow me on Twitter @concentricdots and get a notification of when the Smart Insights Content Marketing ROI Guide publishes in February.
  4. Create an editorial calendar. If you’re struggling with your content marketing, attaching deadlines to your activities is the first step toward being more disciplined. One of the best tools that publishing lends content marketing is the editorial calendar. If you’re struggling with creating an effective editorial calendar, our Content Marketing Masterclass might be the training you need in 2014.
  5. Influence the influencers. When your influencers share your content with their audiences it escalates your influence by proxy. Experiment with tools like Little Bird to identify and tap into the influencers that are blogging, tweeting and sharing content that matters in your sector. Influencer marketing goes hand in hand with content curation and aggregation, two key activities that help audiences filter out the rubbish content and filter in the best content. Click here for advice on influencer marketing.
  6. Promote your content. Remember the #1 Golden rule at the beginning of this post: Plan for how your audiences are going to discover your content before you spend time and resources creating it . There’s no point producing great content if you haven’t planned how you can reach your audiences to tell them about it! In 2014 you need to focus as much on content distribution as you do on content creation. You need to plan your promotion with the same care you plan your content and use tools like HootSuite and other automated scheduling platforms to target and reach your audiences.

Reality check:  The popularity of content marketing is making it more difficult for you to stand out. It’s inevitable that you’ll struggle: Content marketing is tough, but the above disciplines will help you avoid disappointment in 2014.

I’ve described the actions to take to improve the effectiveness of your content marketing in 2014, but nothing is more important than producing content that your customers actually want. Remember this: Anticipate your readers’ questions before you create and publish anything at all.

If you’re afraid that you’re going to struggle with content marketing in 2014, you can attend one of our Content Marketing Masterclasses, where we’ll give you all the tools and templates you need to succeed. More details on the Content Masterclass website

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Content Marketing: Is it Right For Your Business?

content marketing trends 2103

Is content marketing right for my business?

Does content marketing for startups and small business work? 

Does content marketing for events work? Does content marketing for banks work? How about content marketing for financial services, does that work?

You’d be forgiven for asking. 94% of all UK companies, big or small have rushed headlong into content marketing simply because it is the latest trend and they don’t want to miss out. But are they doing it with any success?

The above content marketing queries are just a tiny selection of the monthly questions thousands of UK business owners and managers tap into search engines in an effort to understand the meaning and benefit of this new form of digital marketing: “Does content marketing for lawyers work?, Is content marketing for law firms effective?, What are the benefits of content marketing for hotels and hospitality, insurance, professional services, or nonprofits?”

No one likes to miss out on a new marketing trend 

According to two recent surveys from CMI/DMA UK and Econsultancy 94% of all UK companies are doing some form of content marketing and 71% of respondents plan to increase their content marketing spend in 2013.

Don’t get sucked into content marketing

Before you get sucked in to content marketing, look beyond the hype for some good common sense advice, such as that offered by Justin Pearse in his Guardian’s media blog post: “Why brands need to avoid the hype surrounding content marketing.”

In his post @justinpearse speaks about the importance of not getting sucked in to the hype of content marketing, but instead advises businesses owners and managers to consider the strategic relevance of content marketing to their business objectives.

Rather than “rush in” to content marketing Pearse recommends businesses “remain firmly focused on customers, their interests, passions, anxieties and hopes, to try and understand what sort of content they’re interested in”, which is the advice encapsulated in his post’s subheading: “For content marketing to succeed, brands need to produce authentic content that clearly resonates with the consumer”.

So what can you do, as a business, to be less knee-jerk and more strategic with content marketing?

Our advice is to use a solid content marketing framework like 6 Steps To A Solid Content Marketing Plan . It’s a failsafe tried-and-tested framework that will put backbone and back muscle into your content creation process and ensure you’re no longer asking dumb questions, or flailing around in the dark, or using content marketing like a spray gun. 

The framework is all about getting content creation right for your brand and for your customers – helping you to decide who should write your content, where it should go, how often you should write it, what you should write about, how long it should be, what types of content you invest in: blogs, videos, white papers, or Infographics?

If you get the picture, then why not get in the frame?

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Are You One Of The 95% Doing Content Marketing For Lead Generation?

content marketing for lead generation

Target customers with better content marketing

Is your company one of the 95% in the UK doing content marketing?

A recent study says 95% of UK marketers “do content marketing”.

Historically, small business owners have had to rely on third party media to publish content on their behalf, but in the digital marketing era, the line between publishing and marketing is blurring, and publishers and marketers are now doing very similar types of things to attract audiences, nurture prospects, and convert them into life-long customers (the process of lead generation in a complex buying cycle).

Are you using content marketing for the complex sale?

Businesses of all sizes can now be publishers, which means many innovative businesses (often startups, devoid of hard-to-banish marketing legacy, are pioneering their own publishing and digital marketing operations at very low cost, and using content marketing and social media in digital channels to interact with their audiences. These more nimble companies are using content marketing to “capture” their prospects and convert them into customers over the course  of a complex sale.

How closely does your company’s content marketing activity match the key findings from the CMI/DMA UK’s research?

  • 94% of UK marketers have adopted content marketing
  • 49% of marketers plan to increase their content marketing spend over the next 12 months
  • 26% of marketers use 5-6 tactics whilst 22% use 16-19 content marketing tactics
  • 90% are writing their own online articles and doing their own social media marketing
  • 74% write their own blogs
  • 85% create their own eNewsletters
  • 82% use Twitter
  • 78% use LinkedIn
  • 76% use Facebook
  • 57% use YouTube
  • 55% of UK companies outsource content creation

Or is your company struggling to create enough content? 

Many small business owners aren’t media content experts, and very few marketers have publishing skills, which means that 57% of UK companies surveyed are struggling to generate sufficient content, whilst 49% of businesses can’t produce content that engages their audiences.

Do you need a content marketing planning framework? 

Content creation takes time and skill: copywriting, design, layout, writing headlines, chunking, storytelling, tone-of-voice, customer empathy are all skilled practices.

Without a solid content planning process like the 6 Steps Content Marketing Planning Framework marketers miss the point, post stories or articles that matter more to them than to their audiences, and procrastinate for so long over what to publish that they miss their deadlines

If your company says it’s going to invest in content marketing, or invest more money in content marketing (like 54% of the respondents in the study), you will fail unless you have the framework, discipline and skills required.

Whether you succeed or not with content marketing is not dependent on your product or service (some companies in “boring” industries are creating great content marketing), your company or market size, your price or channel, but more a question of whether or not you truly understand the disciplines and rigours at the heart of content marketing.

If you’d like help with content marketing planning visit our main website and get in touch, or simply sign up to receive our content marketing tips.

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Seven Content Marketing Trends For UK Business To Follow In 2013

CMI Study Points To UK Content Marketing Best Practice 2013

UK Content Marketing Insights & Trends 2013

Biggest Content Marketing Challenges For UK Companies

The trend toward more widespread adoption of content marketing in UK business is confirmed in the findings of a landmark report released by The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and the Direct Marketing Association UK (DMA).

The study shows UK businesses wholeheartedly ‘embracing’ content marketing strategy and content marketing social media to drive top line business objectives such as brand awareness (78%), audience engagement (75%) and lead generation and customer acquisition (71%).

The survey provides seven helpful insights to help UK business owners and UK content marketers develop better content marketing process to attract more customers and grow their businesses in 2013.

1. Content Marketing UK Explained

The headline finding of the report shows the vast majority (94%) of UK businesses use content marketing as an integral part of their overall marketing strategy.

This is a marked improvement in the use of content marketing tools when compared to Econsultancy Content Marketing Survey Report which showed that in 2011/12 most UK companies used content marketing on an “ad hoc basis

2. From Content Marketing Basics To Content Marketing Strategy

One of the biggest challenges for marketers is understanding the connection between branded content and brand audiences.

The Content Marketing in the UK: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report  prompted 39% of respondents to rank themselves as “effective” or “very effective” at content marketing. This means UK marketers are getting more confident about planning, creating and distributing well thought-out, strategically developed content that engages their audiences at different stages of their buying cycle, rather than just doing blog posts or videos that lack quality, customer understanding or digital marketing savviness. 

3. UK Content Marketing Examples

The study shows UK companies and marketers are using more content marketing Research Reports (66%) and content marketing eNewsletters (62%) as content types to reach their audiences. This demonstrates a better level of understanding amongst UK content marketing professionals when it comes to choosing the content format or vehicle bast suited to attract, engage and connect with potential and actual customers across a variety of relevant content marketing touch points.

4. From Content Marketing SEO to Content Marketing Case Studies and White Papers

According to the study UK content marketers have skilled up and progressed from basic and rudimentary website search engine optimisation, to writing compelling quality content that has greater relevancy for their audiences. Examples include content marketing blog posts (78%), content marketing case studies (83%) and content marketing white papers (52%) that align with customers needs as well as Google’s algorithmic changes like Panda.

UK Content Marketing Insights & Trends 2013

Most Popular Content Marketing Tactics (UK)

 

5. Content Marketing Outsourcing vs In-house Content Marketing

The report shows that the biggest content marketing challenges for UK companies are not being able to produce enough content (57%), not being able to produce the kind of content that engages (49%) and not being able to create sufficient variety of content (39%), like content marketing ebooks (25%) or content marketing podcasts (21%).

These content marketing challenges are the reason why 55% of UK businesses seek out experienced content marketing consultancies to help them plan and create properly thought-out content that will attract visitors to their pages and turn visitors into leads and leads into customers.

6. Content Marketing And Social Media Marketing

With so many new channels to choose from, selecting the right channels and managing brand messaging seamlessly across them can not be disassociated from content marketing, hence social marketing and content marketing are linked at the hip and must be carried out simultaneously. The report reveals that UK marketers are prioritising Twitter (82%), LinkedIn (78%) and Facebook (76%) as the preferred platforms for engaging their audiences, and using an average of four social media platforms at once. LinkedIn is the most popular option for UK B2B marketers, while Facebook is the favourite platform for B2C marketers.

The preference for these three popular content marketing social media platforms shows how great the opportunity is for creating content marketing video that stands out on YouTube (just 52% currently), replicating content on Google+ (currently just 33%) and for presenting branded content on SlideShare (now just 17%).

Overall the report shows UK companies are deploying an average of 13 content marketing tactics. (Chart)

7. Content Marketing For Small Business and Startups

One of the most interesting takeaways of the report is that micro businesses and small businesses allocate the highest proportion of their marketing spend to content marketing (39 per cent and 33 per cent), far outstripping midsize companies (18%) and large companies (20%).

This is because small and micro businesses can easily do content marketing themselves, but struggle with paid-for content (advertising and promotion). Startups by their nature have limited financial means and their personnel are often operating closer to the frontline with a greater focus on customer personalisation. For that reason content marketing and social media with their near zero cost of entry, are great marketing tactics that give small and micro businesses a competitive advantage on which to out-market their larger counterparts. One could say that the year or content marketing might also be the year of the small and micro business who can be perfecting their content curation techniques and finding great content to grow their audiences.

8. Marketing Transformation

With the customer buying cycles being extended by the advent of online search and content marketing reaching its peak, UK businesses are opening up to marketing transformation and recruiting the services of content marketing agencies with specialist content marketing skills  to help them plan their inbound and content marketing strategies, content creation, lead generation and consumer acquisition.

About the study

The report is entitled Content Marketing in the UK: 2013 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends. It was produced by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and the Direct Marketing Association UK (DMA). The survey was mailed electronically to a sample of marketers from among members, subscribers, and partner lists of CMI and DMA. A total of 190 participants responded from UK companies (including 128 B2B companies and 34 B2C companies) during the time period of August 2012 through January 2013, representing a range of industries, functional areas, and company sizes.

About Concentric Dots

Concentric Dots is a strategic content marketing agency helping businesses across the UK, Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and the South West implement effective content marketing strategy and content marketing process. The agency’s in-depth understanding of content marketing best practice, content marketing tools and content marketing questions means it’s able to answer the most challenging content marketing questions across a range of free or paid-for content marketing resources and services including content marketing video | content marketing guides | content marketing case studies | content marketing workshops and content marketing training. Its transparent content marketing process | content marketing outsource and content marketing pricing and its strict adherence to the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s quality mark and code of practice means its a trusted UK content marketing agency.

What is the success of a concurrent book / mobile app publishing strategy?

Craig Ramsay's Mobile Apps

What is unique about your publishing? Do you have a game changer?

Successful publishing has always thrived on unique stories

One thing I learned early on in my publishing career was that sales success relies on having great and compelling stories to tell, and that without a great and compelling story to communicate to your prospects, the media and the booksellers, you might as well not publish.

Better still: if you’ve got a “game changer” you can share, and you can focus all your marketing and sales resources on it, you will be the golden boy/girl of your division or business unit. That’s because you provide the sales and marketing teams with “uniqueness”, which makes their lives easier, and their work gratifying.

Here is a story about uniqueness in todays fast changing digital publishing world.

Technology in the gym 

Ipods, iPhones and smartphones are very popular in the gym. Most fitness enthusiasts take their device into the gym with them.

When you’re dazed and confused  

Now, imagine your typical gym person: they are on their third or fourth visit to the gym in two weeks; they’ve had their induction from the gym supervisor, and they are still feeling a bit insecure about the equipment and the right and wrong exercises they ought to be performing. They’re feeling a bit lost and they want advice and tips about exercises, sequences, sets and repetitions. They look around but it’s intimidating: other fitness zealots are busy with their own workouts, and the trainer is doing an new induction, so he’s not available.

A exercise book on the bedside table

Our gym newbie has an exercise book at home, which sits beside the bed, which they’ve studied several times, before going to sleep. However, when our fitness newbie is in the gym the next day, they are overwhelmed by the extent of the equipment and the choice, and they don’t know where to start, what piece of equipment to use, how to use it properly, nor what exercise to do next.

Books in the gym – not cool!

Our exercise fanatic doesn’t want to take their book into the gym, because they don’t want to appear foolish or stupid – after all, this is muscle building, not a book club! So, books in the gym are not cool!

So the book stays at home, but our user is trying to remember the exercises he / she needs to perform and is thinking “I wish I could remember which “biceps” and “triceps” exercises there were in the book”  and “what what did the trainer say was the best technique for the bench press exercise?”

When a desire becomes a reality 

Well, that customer desire for more nomadic and personalised mobile instruction in the gym is now a reality.

In a series of apps we’ve developed with our Partners Moseley Road and personal fitness coach Craig Ramsay, we’ve done something pretty smart. We’re taking the content from the Muscle Anatomy series and we’ve re-engineered it for the small screen. But we’re not simply following the structure of the books. We’re splitting the content into different apps. That’s because we don’t think an app should duplicate a book. If it did, it would simply overwhelm the user with too much information on a small device. Instead we craft the app for a purpose. In the case of the muscle building anatomy title, that purpose is be a fast and simple “aide memoire” for use in the gym, providing what the user needs “in a blink”.

The game changer 

But the best is still to come: the apps we’ve engineered from the muscle building anatomy title provide something the book does not: they allow the user to hone in on the specific muscles they would like to target, and provide specific exercises designed for that muscle group. So when our users are the gym and they want an exercise for their biceps and triceps, they can navigate straight from the “muscles” menu and locate the best exercises for those muscles in a blink. That’s something extra, that the book does not do, but which the app is perfectly suited for.

Do you have a unique publishing story for your sales and marketing teams? 

If this is the kind of story you would like to be able to talk about on the cover of your books (“this book includes an app for you to take into the gym”), and it’s the sort of story your marketing and sales teams would like to be able to tell the media and booksellers, and you see it as a way to build strength in your brand, and differentiate from your competition, we’d love to hear about your experience, challenges and successes in the world of concurrent app / book publishing. Write a comment below or, if you’d rather, use the contact form

British Airways Flights To Marrakech Disappoint Passengers

British Airways Flight Delays

Management at BA needs to raise its head above the parapet

Passengers on British Airways Marrakech flights resent poor service

Passengers on British Airways Marrakech flight BA2667 to London Gatwick Airport yesterday were subject to long delays and given a meagre €5 euros (£3.90) coupon to compensate for the long delay to their homeward flight.

Passengers who checked-in for flight BA2667 at Marrakech airport at the scheduled time of 2PM, flew home at 8.10PM, spending 6 long hours at Marrakech airport with no explanation provided for the delay, and getting to Gatwick Airport in the early hours of the following morning, when they should have been tucked up in bed, resting and refreshed for work the following morning.

Passengers of delayed British Airways flight Marrakech forced to drive home in dangerous conditions

The long delay caused significant inconvenience and stress to passengers reliant on public transport for their onward journey and for passengers forced to drive long distances in the rain in the early hours of the morning to get home.  One couple making the drive home to Exeter left the airport car park after a late baggage reclaim to arrive home after 5 AM in the morning.

British Airways flights to Marrakech fail to compete with the low cost carriers

Interviews with passengers on this route and with ground staff at Marrakech airport, reveal a growing trend in delays for British Airways passengers on Marrakech flights.

When questioned about British Airways flights from Marrakech, ground staff working for Swissport, the international airport management services firm, confirmed a noticeable upward trend in delays for the carrier on this route. However the same staff were unable to shed further light on the reasons for the spate of delays, reporting simply that the airline always says the delays are “technical” or “operational.”

British Airways has no direct staff representation at Marrakech Airport, and the aircraft crew, pilot and cabin staff, did not provide a comment nor a reason or a genuine apology for the delay, ignoring the plight of passengers seeking information.

Whatever the cause, passengers lured by the promise of reliability, reputation and service, including an in-flight meal, will be disappointed, not least by the meagre in-flight “urban” grazing box they received in lieu of a proper compensatory evening meal, but also by their decision to choose BA over the low-cost Easy Jet and Ryanair options on this route.

When British Airways decided to compete with the discount carriers on this route they claimed they would be giving travellers “a true alternative to budget carriers on flights to Morocco” claiming passengers would enjoy fantastic all-inclusive flights compared with the no-frills services normally provided by discount airlines.

At the end of the day the issue begs the question: would you rather graze from a box or get  home on time, rested and ready to meet your professional engagements?

Personally I will be complaining to my travel agent about the way British Airways treated passengers and their lack of accountability on this route. I will also put in a compensation claim for a day’s lost earnings, since the prolonged travel and late arrival home prevented me from upholding my schedule of work.

The airline’s reputation for service is eroding fast and this episode, their nonchalance and the pitiful €5 euro coupon will do little to restore my faith in the airline’s ability to be a credible service provider on the international marketplace.

Until the management at BA raise their head above the parapet and offer a genuine apology and compensation that stretches beyond a stale slice of apple pie and a lukewarm coffee, I will opt for the low cost carrier every time and recommend my friends do the same.

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Can Book Publishers Be App Publishers?

How to market an app

Can book publishers be app publishers?

Are apps failing publishers, or are publishers failing at apps?

According to Forrester (DBW 2012): US publishers’ “love affair” with book apps is “officially over”!

How can that be when the smart phone and app downloads markets are both forecast to grow exponentially? See the volume forecasts by Gartner and comment by Facebook CTO, Bret Taylor, who calls the explosion in smartphone adoptions “the most important technology trend since the advent of the Internet”

So, how can publishers be failing to capitalise on what is such an extraordinary digital publishing opportunity? I think the following business and organisational considerations are key to understanding that dilema.

Center of gravity  

Book and app publishing are not the same. In book publishing, the centre of gravity – the focus of activity – is located in sales and production. The bulk of the activity goes into managing print runs (production), authors, suppliers, distributors and retailers (a whole bunch of intermediaries). So in traditional publishing an inordinate amount of effort is required to manage and join-up both ends of the publishing spectrum: author and bookseller.

In contrast, the centre of gravity for app publishers is the user experience (brand) and customer relation with few intermediaries to manage. That’s because the model, its urgency (short product to market cycle) and pricing cannot support the complexity and management of intermediary relations. Hence, app publishers are not structured to manage relationships.

Instead app publishers are small nimble teams with a huge capacity for work and a love of authoring, graphic design and technology. The core business is quick and effective repurposing and refashioning of assets to suit small tactile screens and enhance the mobile app experience. In app publishing the focus of the activity is on the user and on ensuring the user will delight in navigating and using the app, time and again.

Types of marketing 

Sales of apps are transparent; they occur in realtime and the app publisher has a country-by-country sales record of every download and adoption almost the moment the  transactions occur.

Hence the app publisher can measure the effectiveness of every marketing initiative it drives within 24 hours of it being actioned. Viewed through this lens, marketing is less about campaigning (campaigns have a beginning and end) and more about on-going brand and customer interaction.

And it becomes the requirement of every app publishing business to reach and engage with its customers directly 24/7, 365 days a year. And this is the rub:to interact  INDIVIDUALLY and PERSONALLY. Online publishers of all ranks need to spend time here: managing the relationship with end users. That’s an investment in time and probably a organisational restructure, but it’s mandatory.

With digital giving consumers access to every kind of information anywhere, anytime, publishers must have complete mastery of how prospects access and consume content at every stage of their customer journey, from an early awareness to a readiness to buy.

Therefore, the crucial job of marketing in publishing today is to understand where prospects hang out, what sources of information they consult (online and offline) and what content most influences their purchase decision. They must also master the innumerable ways they have to facilitate this marketing intelligence program online, via email, surveys, discussion forums, blog posts and microblogs etc…

Evolution of app marketing 

With app publishing, the fundamental basic questions publishers need to answer for better app marketing are

  1. How do my customers prefer to access information?
  2. Do they attend events? In-person or online?
  3. Are their organisations and emails listed anywhere, can I build a customer database and reach them with my direct mailing campaigns? (this is the most important single element of  e-commerce)
  4. Do they get their information at work or at home? If so in what form?
  5. Do they get their information through word-of-mouth from their peers, if so via which channels?
  6. Also, does advertising play a role?

Gathering essential information for marketing an app

For the past eight weeks my colleagues and I have been focusing our efforts on a suite of apps destined to help boaters and sailors worldwide. Our starting point was to immerse ourselves completely in the world of our users and to experience what it is to be stood in the shoes of skippers, instructors and trainees. To that we had to reach out and dialogue with people in nautical training centers in our three biggest international markets.

This provided the information we required for effective product development, for testing the apps and for engaging our affiliate communities early in order to forge trust, acceptance and pass along word of mouth.

Getting the right mix of channels for app discovery

Knowing our prospects preferred some communications mediums and formats over others was another critical piece of the puzzle: we needed to know in advance how we would make our apps discoverable and for this we needed to know what they preferred: reading blog posts, following Twitter or viewing YouTube? This provided the clues we needed for our marketing effort (you can have the best app in the world but if no one knows about it, it might as well be the worst app in the world). Our marketing plan was a no-brainer: we cross-referenced the most popular search topics on the highest traffic formats and prioritised the these in our communications plan.

The best indicators of marketing performance were frequency of views, how often people commented on posts or tweeted or shared information. This provided the basis for measuring the conversion ratios.

Specifically to our project, we identified that video sharing, blogging, micro blogging with social network (Facebook) are the preferred channels in the boating and sailing world. Offline, boat shows and consumer magazines are were identified as key channels too but few and far apart. Ultimately, however, we discovered that 60% of our communications needed to focus on targeted mailing lists – the sort of lists that allowed us to generate 50% open rates and 40% CTRs. The channel was critical to rapid and sustained adoptions.

App store marketing

Some app publishers will say that the biggest wins for them come from having a great relationship with the App Store. This has been undoubtedly true for some publishers. But being awarded App of the Week wouldn’t make a lot of difference to our ColRegs project. That’s because the target group is too niche for “app of the week” to matter. We are long tail and we will soak up the sales over time, organically through search. So, we have to focus our energies on creating the best search marketing out there.

Search Results 

So far (and we’re only eight weeks into our activity) our search performance (SERP) has given us first page ranking with four spots out of a possible ten indexations (including #1 for non-paid search) on Google and top level ranking on YouTube. That’s not bad for just 60 days’ of trading!

The Title P&L

The title P&L for an app requires new data: consumer (not trade) sales, lower distribution costs, few production and no manufacturing costs, different channels to market and most crucially of all weekly conversion and download rates; set these to something realistic and exceed them, different time scales too, which are longer-tail, “evergreen” rather than “coniferous”, and price points and marketing costs that are realistic.

Conclusion

I hope that publishers’ love affair with apps is not dead, but instead that publishers will learn and adopt a new approaches to consumer app publishing and marketing.

Transformation and Disintermediation In The Publishing Industry – Final Word Of 2011

To make an end is to make a beginning - lessons from 2011

To make an end is to make a beginning - lessons from 2011

 

I’ve written about the different facets of transformation and disintermediation in the publishing industry throughout 2010 and 2011 but I wanted to share a more personal angle and distil the lessons I’ve learned into ten key points that will guide me in 2012.

  1. You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Abandon any attempt to make a horse drink water and focus on achieving something of less resistance. Continue reading

Exeter Blocked Drain | Unblocking Drains | South West Water | Metro Rod | Testimonial

 

How to unblock a drain in Exeter

How A Blocked Drain In Exeter Became A Saga

My wife and I have been removing waste from our back yard all weekend. The place is like a film set from Slumdog Millionaire.

The non technical term for our situation: “up to our ucksters in shite.”

This morning after deciding we could not continue to clear the drain ourselves, we called Dyno-Rod who came promptly to examine the work, but walked away just as speedily when our neighbour, who owns a hairdressing salon next door, divulged a legacy tale of how sewage flooded her shop, causing her loss of business and compensation claim against South West Water (SWW).

Eight years ago she was awarded  compensation for illness (hepatitis) and loss of business.

Today, following our call, South West Water (SWW) finally sent their engineer, a man from a company called Metro-Rod.

When the engineer got here, after dark, he examined the man hole in our yard, saw the drains were blocked and went to speak to our neighbour, the hairdressing salon owner.

When he returned, after about 15 minutes, he announced there was nothing he could do and that he was leaving to go to his next job, under the pretext the neighbour was being uncooperative and had asked him to prove his identity, which he chose not to do.

Their  contre-temps is now my problem, and  the engineer has left. This happened in a blink of eye, whilst I was on the phone to South West Water, asking one of their duty inspection managers to confirm the subcontractor’s identity to the owner of the hairdressing salon!

So the shit from the shared drain that is blocked is still OUR SHIT, and the experts that get paid to serve customers have gone without trace. How professional is that? 

Surely the engineer that works for SWW could have waited 5 minutes for a resolution, couldn’t he?

We’ve waited all day and, perhaps naively, we thought the job would be a  quick and simple case of putting a pressure jet up the drain and blasting the blockage out, but no, it had to turn into the unexpected. So we’ll go another 24 hours without a shower and without washing up or using the household water, coping with the stink and pretending we’re on the set of Slumdog Millionaire Film Set.

Thank you South West Water and MetroRod, another great bit of customer service.

Content Marketing: how to think like a publisher

Content Marketing Think Like A Publisher The Original Michelin Guide Rouge 1900

Content Marketing Think Like A Publisher The Original Michelin Guide Rouge 1900

In a recent blog post for Smart Insights, the UK’s premiere digital marketing portal, I asked the question: “Why might a company that sells goods or services want to act like a media company?”

The point I was trying to illicit was that all non-media companies now have the chance to embrace content creation to attract, win, convert and retain customers.

Compelling content attracts and retains customers 

Yet most businesses plod on with old school marketing, churning our content that is neither compelling nor relevant to their audiences. Audiences have become adept at filtering out messages that are irrelevant to them.

I’m conscious that if thinking and acting like a publisher were easy, then more businesses would be doing it by now and the discipline would move into the mainstream. Instead content marketing, despite being the new marketing muscle, is only used by innovators and by a handful of very early adopters (visionaries) who understand that customers will more willingly be attracted and “pulled” toward a brand, product or service if the content is helpful.

Why do so many businesses fail with content marketing and which businesses succeed? 

The problem is that most businesses today are not resourced or structured appropriately to enable them to develop carefully crafted, relevant and timely content that supports prospects and customers along the buying cycle.

Yet some non-media companies have successfully used content marketing as their core marketing strategy for decades even centuries. In 1954 Guinness printed 1000 copies of The Guinness Book of Records. The book was a marketing tool or give-away, rather than a money making venture. Similarly, the first edition of Michelin’s Red Guide was published in 1900, originally to help drivers maintain their cars, find overnight accommodation, and eat well while touring France. The “Guide Rouge”, as it is known, included the locations of petrol stations, mechanics, and tyre specialists, along with tips on tyre and car maintenance. Michelin only started charging for the Guide in its twentieth year of production, when the Michelin brothers realised that copies of the Guide were being use to prop up workbenches in garages.

Content marketing is not new. Those non-media companies understood that people are willing to be ‘pulled’ towards a product, service or brand if they see that its providers are offering them something entertaining or of value which fulfills an informational need or desire for entertainment.

Content marketing: from specialty to ubiquity 

Those were companies with vision and publishing in those days was not core to their business. Today though, the tools for publishing are ubiquitous and are central to all integrated marketing communications. That’s because the obstacles of media production and distribution have dissipated. But to be effective and to win a return on investment, businesses which produce compelling content need watertight methodologies if they are to succeed in a crowded ad noisy marketplace. To be successful in content creation, businesses need to think in a joined-up way that ensures all their efforts and resources are geared toward providing compelling content that sticks, that is shared and which attracts (pulls) the bees (prospects) to the honey pot (brand). Achieving this outcome in support of sales requires both resources and process. What follows is a summary of both.

Content marketing: resources and process 

Content marketing needs to ensure both resources and process are leveraged to perform the following with consistency:

- Identify the needs and personas of its target audience

- Audit and categorise its content assets and sources

- Put the right people on the right task (sadly too often content creation and social media are pushed down to the most junior people in the business)

- Define the roles and responsibilities of the people in content creation, editing and production needed to fulfill the business objectives and maintain the editorial activity over the long term

- Understand and support the customer along their journey at the varoious touch points and negate their pain all along their journey

- Ensure content production is scheduled and fulfilled (editorial and production calendars)

- Provide the rules and guidelines for the team and the contributing authors, designers, editors etc.. to abide by

- Plot the above onto a milestone plan

- Create a content/editorial calendar – define the strategic orientations, formats and frequency of output

- Design the layout of content

- Copy edit and guide internal and external contributors, experts, authors

- Control production

- Provide keywords and ensure all posts are optimised for search (SEO)

- Metadata tagging and image selection

- Style corrections

- Resource and manage the production and delivery (video, webinar, ebook etc)

- Distribute the content though all appropriate channels and measure effectiveness

- Cost, budget and allocate resources for and to the above

- Negotiate terms with contributing authors/ experts/freelancers

- Develop customer relations via social content

This process  is no mean feat, and when content marketing fails, it’s mostly because process fails.

Ensuring the content marketing process works

Below I have reproduced a glimpse of a milestone plan I developed for a client in the technology sector.

Content marketing milestone plan

Content marketing milestone plan

Content marketing  resources

The internal coordinator or manager of the process oversees this process from A to Z to ensure that all tasks and goals within the plan run smoothly and that the plan delivers the marketing goals. The same person manages the resources for editorial and production. In turn editorial and production manage content creation and production. Thus the content creators (employees and contributing authors) are given clear guidelines to work by so that their time can be dedicated to creating the content.

If you visualise this workflow as a critical path plan like the one above, you can begin to see how the workflow for the team is shaped and how resources need to be allocated in order to deliver the volume of content needed, with the frequency of output and to ensure distribution is achieved in all marketing channels.

Help with content marketing

If managing the content marketing process is something your business finds challenging, I work independently, and with some of the best digital agencies in the UK, to ensure your business develops the content marketing methodologies and disciplines needed to accentuate sales. If you’d like more information on my approach, please contact me.

You can also view my LinkedIn profile here