Success control in content marketing: the one-eyed blind man.

Why do not companies invest in success control in content marketing? I want to start my blog post with a very striking parable:

You design a very nice flyer on which, say, you want to present your favorite recipes for your friends. After you put a lot of creativity and brains into the design, you are ready and give the command for printing. And that’s it. They do not care about your flyers anymore. You do not know if someone else takes it out of the printer and distributes it or if your lovingly designed recipes just end up in the trash! You’ve put valuable resources into this little recipe project, without checking whether your friends are interested and whether they like it. If in doubt, no one has read your prescriptions and you’ve wasted your time. But the really curious thing about our little story: you do this again and again!

Sounds absurd, but that’s exactly what the Digital Entrepreneurship Study 2015 of The Digital is about controlling the success of content marketing strategies in companies. Funds are to flow to integrate content marketing into the marketing strategies of the companies, but no funds should be invested in the success control.

Something is going wrong here!

On what fundamentals exactly do companies want to build their content marketing, if not over the traditional “trial and error” principle? Where would you like to start in order to optimize your strategies or to exclude ineffective ones? How do companies want to know what the target group likes? Or which way generates new leads, Facebook likes or actual sales? Is it the whitepaper or is it just the look behind the scenes? Or the last blog post on the corporate blog? Which platforms are suitable for the content and how often should they be made available and when? Nobody will know without adequate and continuous performance management!

Furthermore, the question arises on which basis these companies plan their content marketing campaigns? If you do not want to control if the target audience is attached to your ideas, then you may not even identify a target audience? Or what about the KPIs? Is there simply none? Why define content marketing metrics if you do not want to evaluate them to see them in a larger context? Success control in content marketing is mandatory!

The one-eyed among the blind

Anyway – it’s definitely not enough just to throw content into the ether! In order to be successful, content marketing also relies on the action-reaction principle. One could talk about a content marketing lifecycle that closes only when it’s clear what content marketing has brought the company. A successful content marketing lifecycle can be built by not simply starting, but by strategic content marketing, the goals set, operationalized and measurable and the Zielerreichungsgrad.

On the one hand, strategic content marketing consists of the content marketing strategy including all operationalized elements. On the other hand from operative content marketing, the practical implementation of the previously defined points in various content formats. This includes the ongoing provision and interpretation of analytical data and the readjustment when creating and promoting their own content. Successful content marketing is basically inconceivable without such performance management. Because it helps to find out what kind of needs the personas have and in what form they can be satisfied.

Basically, the result of the above-mentioned study is that all companies investing in continuous performance management will be a step ahead of the pass-the-buck!

Content Marketing Trends 2018 – What's new and what's left?

201712KD Blogbeitrag Content Marketing Trends 2018

Well, how long have you kept your good intentions for the year 2017? The participants of the study Content Marketing Trends 2018 obviously took our blog post from last year to heart: All participants stated that their company has a content marketing strategy. However, only 14 percent have a fully developed and functioning strategy. And the others? For the majority, the strategy is still under construction, with around one-third of respondents saying that they are dissatisfied with the existing strategy. There is still room for improvement for 2018!

As is often the case with good intentions: most of them are still valid next year. Nevertheless, we looked at each other: What are the Content Marketing Trends 2018?

Purpose 1: Invest in content quality

Improving content quality is a key task for 98 percent of respondents in the New Year. What a confession! If you want to achieve success with content marketing, you first need a strategy and goals – only then do you use your budget and resources as effectively as possible. An important part of the content marketing strategy is the development of personas. This ensures that the content is relevant and useful – either satisfying a reader’s need (pull content) or awakening (push content). In the English-speaking world already a big topic: the optimization of content in terms of voice search. Maybe you’re one of those who uses the voice commands “Okay Google” or “Hey Siri”?

Resolution 2: More videos, preferably live

We have already predicted this for 2017. But this trend will intensify even more in 2018: videos. The days when it took an expensive camera to make a good video are over. A smartphone and a tripod are often enough. According to Facebook, live videos are particularly popular with users. They are viewed more frequently and commented ten times as much. What also eliminates this is the elaborate post-production. All the more important is a good planning in advance. Bad light, noise or an unstable internet connection are just some of the technical hurdles that must be circumvented. In terms of content, you should also think carefully about what added value the live video offers the viewers.

Resolution 3: Expanding the Reality

Since September 2017, there is “IKEA Place” in the AppStore – an augmented reality (AR) app, with which you can virtually place furniture in your own home. By the end of 2018, there could be 800 million smartphones around the world supporting sophisticated AR applications. The depictions are already amazingly realistic. That’s why Deloitte predicts the big breakthrough of augmented reality for 2018.

Intent 4: Content over the whole user journey

The importance of content marketing will continue to increase. Companies can come into contact with the users via suitable content, arouse their interest and finally build trust. A common mistake made by companies is to focus on users who are still at the top of the sales funnel or have long been customers. The intent is therefore to provide relevant content for users at every level of the user journey. Neil Patel goes so far as to say, “Content is the fuel for the Buyer’s Journey.” Sounds logical: if the fuel runs out while driving, you will not get to the finish, or there will be no conversions. So plan the content strategy along the whole funnel.

Resolution 5: Collaborate with influencers

“Influencer Marketing” is the buzzword 2018. A recent study proves: Influencer marketing works. And especially with young people. In the age group of 14 to 29 years, every sixth German online user has already bought products that he had previously seen with an influencer. Do not forget: Transparency is king! The users want authentic, transparent brand messages. If the product is to be housed only indiscriminately with as many Instagrammer with as many followers, then that brings nothing. It is better to carefully choose micro-influencers with fewer but dedicated followers – especially for niche products.

The conclusion of Content Marketing Trends 2018:

Despite all trends, one thing remains crucial: the communication mix. And the interlocking of the different channels. In a digital customer magazine, Facebook or Instagram can be integrated into the concept, as well as the cooperation with influencers. A valuable supplement is a print magazine with a personalized address, a newsletter or a live event in which the smartphone is included as a video camera. There are many possibilities – what are you trying out in 2018?

What is Content Marketing?

Tips for a lean start to success measurement

For many companies, measuring success is still new territory. They find it difficult to find the right measure in dealing with key figures. Often the motto is “completely or not at all” – big data or blind flight. The truth is, as so often, in the middle. Find out here how to get as streamlined as possible into the analysis and control of your content marketing and which key figures you really need.

Especially small companies and startups like to orient their marketing activities to “prominent” metrics, which can be determined without much effort, eg visitors to the website, like on Facebook or clicks on Youtube. Each of these values can be music in the ears of a marketer but does not yet give a realistic picture of how successful the content really is from a business perspective. Here’s an example: A whitepaper on your site is downloaded five times a day, and it’s well received on social networks. At first glance, a complete success, at least as far as the marketing of the content is concerned. However, their distribution comes to a sobering conclusion: the leads that flush the whitepaper into your CRM are anything but qualified. This white paper turns out to be a flop from a business point of view, although it can be well marketed. Because it does not contribute to the sale of your product.

What do we learn from this? A measure alone is only part of the truth. To truly evaluate the effectiveness of your content, you need to measure and interpret different metrics in context. Especially at the beginning, it makes sense to concentrate on a few but relevant key figures and to expand them gradually if necessary.

“Lean” Content Scorecard for the start

The most important key figures for your success measurement can be divided into two areas: Key figures for the marketing of content and key figures for the purchasing process. Key figures in the area of content marketing describe the use and scope, or the distribution of content in the network. Purchasing process metrics, on the other hand, describe the customer contacts and sales generated by your content. For the sake of clarity, we map all key figures, broken down into areas of impact, in a Content Scorecard. In this example, for a B2B company offering, among other things, white papers and webinars on its corporate website.

Lean content Marketing_Gastbeitrag_marketing-with-content-Abb2

A Content Scorecard serves as a report sheet to measure the effectiveness of your content. He should be kept as lean as possible, especially if you are just starting to measure success. “Lean” stands for a lean system of few meaningful key figures, which can be optimized on the basis of experience from the live operation continuously.

Key figures for B2B Content Marketing

Start measuring content success at the lower levels of your scorecard, where it’s about tracking the use and reach of your content on the web: How is content consumed on your website or on social media? Is your content recommended or linked in social media? etc. On this basis, you then proceed to measure the impact of your content in the buying process: Does your content generate qualified leads? Does your content help you make purchasing decisions? etc. The most important key figures for your analysis are listed below.

1. Key figures for using your content

How many people have seen or downloaded your content?

  • Number of new vs. returning users who visit your content each day
  • Average time visitors spend with your content
  • Number of registrations and participants for events, eg webinar
  • Number of downloads (white paper, e-book)

2. Key figures on the recommendation behavior of content users

How many people shared or shared your content?

  • Number of links from external sources to your content
  • Likes, tweets, “+1”, shares on Facebook and other platforms

3. Key figures for lead generation

How many people who used your content became leads?

  • Number of Qualified Leads (Sales Qualified Leads, SQL)
  • Number of personal contacts with your sales department (customer calls)
  • Cost per qualified lead

4. Key figures on sales

How many people who used your content bought your product?

  • Total sales (online, offline)
  • Share buyers in the leads gained
  • The share of new customers in the purchases
  • Cost per purchase

Conclusion

Your content is not there just to be consumed. It should also spread on the net, generate leads and help to sell your products. Always measure usage in the context of “hard” sales goals that you track with your content. And that continuously. This is the only way to obtain sound advice on the return on investment of your content from a business perspective.

Is the core story in content marketing a big misunderstanding?

The core story is the proverbial core of strategic content marketing. It brings to the point what distinguishes the company or its products. Is it really like that?

Common schemata for designing a core story in content marketing are based on building the formulation of a corporate mission or on classic storytelling: who, why, how, what? The result of such a derived story puts the company and its products at the center. “We, the … AG, believe that … – that is why we produce products that … – with the result that …” Who makes such a story at the heart of his communication, will talk about himself in the sequence above all.

Above all, content marketing is one thing: user-oriented communication. This refers to the reader benefit. And this is not primarily to find out what distinguishes a particular product. In fact, the reader may even be looking for very different information, entertainment or entertainment. It is precisely this need that content marketing addresses with its content and directs it to the products that are to be marketed. This approach – orientation towards the reader’s benefit – must be consistently applied in the design of the core story. Only then can he consistently pass on the content cascade.

So what does a core story look like, which is consistently oriented towards the reader’s benefit, and how do you get to such a one?

In our experience, it’s often easier to get to the core story than the other way round. Take the fictitious example of a manufacturer of motorhomes. We introduce ourselves to his topics, like the headings of a print magazine. Which categories are interesting for the potential RV buyer and for the RV owner? On the other hand, we often have certain brand attributes, which of course must also be considered. The result of a corresponding creative process might look like this:

Topic 1: Wanderlust (longing, travel fever)
Topic 2: family (community, children, security, pet)
Subject field 3: Nature (sports, enjoyment)
Topic 4: Product (USP, Benefits, Specifications)

Of course, the product should not be excluded. Ideally, the reader reaches the point in the customer journey, where he is also directly interested in the product. The core story, to a certain extent, integrates the essence of all topics – their common intersection. To achieve this, it formulates a challenge or a problem, and the product acts as a solution. For example, according to this pattern (here it is more about the basic mechanics of the story, less about the linguistic elegance …):

“Those who are longing for wanderlust can often think of nothing more than the vast blue sea, majestic mountains in the sunlight, green forests, lakes, and rivers. Doing sports in the wild or with the whole family tree and on the go. Arrive when and where you want. The children can connect, the dog can walk freely. And if the weather does not play along: just drive on, facing the sun. We at Womo make sure that you are on holiday – in nature and yet always at home.
Our family-friendly RVs are characterized by their high variability, driving safety and energy efficiency. ”

Do you really need a core content marketing story?

Strictly speaking, an editorial team does not really need the core story. The topics are actually enough to derive topics and stories. Above all, the main benefit of the core story is that it expresses a certain attitude: the benefits orientation. The benefit of being able to experience yearning, planning the journey, coming up with new ideas is what the content and its sender donate. Incidentally, this also makes great motorhomes. The core story makes it clear that in future it will be written about mountains and the sea, about childcare on vacation, about sports in nature – and occasionally about how this becomes possible: with the camper.

For us, the presentation of the topics in the “content flower” has proven to be successful. The flower shows very well how to understand the core story: as a common intersection of topics. Each individual topic, each contribution can then be placed specifically in a subject area in the content production or in the intersection of several subject areas. The more topics covered, the more the theme of the core story is similar. The further one moves from the center to the outside, the more one pays only to individual aspects of the thematic cosmos.

Content Marketing wants to do everything – can that be good?

A newcomer comes into the class, and since all the rows of chairs are already occupied, he lays across the lap of his new classmates. They do not prostrate until they realize that the newcomer has something and that the teachers are well received, they all want to be like him. They dress like that, work like him and occasionally indulge him. He himself occasionally claims that he does not need the others and that he alone can fill all chairs. The mood in the class is not good.

Since the new “Content Marketing” stirs up the class of communication disciplines, there is bickering. No wonder if one lays across the chairs. But of course, the metaphor is imperfect. Basically, content marketing is a communication strategy approach that puts the customer benefit in the communication itself in the foreground. Otherwise, he uses the complete instrumental skills of the existing disciplines such as PR and corporate publishing. Together with the analysis possibilities of digital communication, this creates a kind of new “meta-discipline”, as Andreas Quinkert writes. I like the term paradigm but actually better, because of the distinction to the past in a different way of thinking.

Content marketing is integration. But the name is wrong.

For at least 20 years we have been talking about “integrated communication”, “convergence”, “360 degrees”. Now, finally, we have an approach that does what the others promised. However, he does so under a false name. Because the crucial thing is neither the content nor the marketing. Marketing is market-oriented business management. In our context, on the other hand, it is only about the instrumental level, the communication policy. The essence of content marketing is – in short – the customer value ( more detailed here ). So: the right approach, wrong name.

“Paradigm” is not the translation for “new hose”

Actually, nothing is really new about content marketing: I use existing communication disciplines and use them to create customer benefits. I can then transfer the contacts so gained to an inbound marketing process and generate leads in this way. But I can also leave it at the pure image work. That depends on the respective objective. But what quickly becomes clear: The whole project is complex and quickly very small parts. That means I need a clear strategy, a lot of instrumental know-how and good analytical skills. The interaction of all sub-disciplines is based on a common conceptual framework based on the idea of benefit-oriented communication.

If my communication strategy was created along such a framework. And if the communication work is done the inconsistent implementation of this strategy, then the result is content marketing. It makes no difference which medium and which channel is used. It also makes no difference if a PR agency is involved in order to sell the press release. I can also use a creative agency to develop suits for the brand. If the relevant communication module is the result of a content marketing process, then it creates customer benefit and creates a thematic connection to the actual product. And if the user voluntarily and consciously takes this content to heart, then it is content marketing. In this perspective, content marketing integrates the existing disciplines but does not replace them.

Hopefully, the market will not break content marketing

That’s the analytical perspective. But what about the market view? How do the rest of the classmates position themselves – as part of Content Marketing? Hardly likely. In a static world, it would be relatively easy: If I offered the integrated service, it would be called content marketing; if I offered a service, it would remain with “PR.” However, everything is on the move and the cases where it is done with a single discipline are becoming less and less. This means that more and more agencies of various origins are moving in the direction of meta disciplinary content marketing. They lose their profile in the market and their credibility – and thus suffers the profile of content marketing in the market. Content Marketing is then representative of communication.