Are you wondering what the best content marketers do differently?
Why not take a peek into their habits and practices, to glean insights that could take your own content marketing to the next level?
A while back, Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs published their latest report, B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America. The report shows two sides of content marketing.
On one hand, the industry is still growing and has a long way to go. On the other hand, things are looking up and confidence is growing as many marketers start to get it right!
Where Are We Headed?
What’s clear from the report is that the most successful B2B marketers are doing more! “More what?” you ask. Well, they’re spending more money, paying more attention to strategy, using more tactics and social media platforms and even producing more content.
Let’s dig deeper into five things that show exactly what the most effective B2B content marketers are doing.
#1. Have Someone to Oversee Content
Seventy-three percent of all B2B organizations have someone in charge of content marketing strategy. However, the majority (86%) of the most effective or best-in-class marketers had someone to oversee content strategy, compared to only 46% of their least effective peers.
Don’t kid yourself—you do need someone to manage your content marketing! To be successful in this industry, there should be at least one person in your organization designated to ‘own’ the content marketing initiative. This person is in charge of executing the content goals that you want to accomplish as an organization.
In his book Epic Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi says that a lot of times when content marketing fails, it’s not because your organization lacks good content. It’s because execution has failed.
Even if you’re a small business and don’t have the budget to hire a dedicated person, you can get one of your managers within the company to supervise content production (UPS does this!)
#2. Have a Documented Content Strategy
Among the most effective marketers, 66% have a documented strategy compared to 11% of the least effective marketers. But overall, only 44% of B2B marketers have a documented strategy.
There’s no content marketing success without a strategy.
If you’ve been operating without a documented content strategy, it’s time to stop gambling. Most likely, any success you have achieved up to this point has been sheer luck.
Figure out what you want content marketing to do for you. Write down your goals, your plan to achieve those goals and what indicators you’ll use to prove your success. Make sure everyone who’s involved in content production is on board with this document.
#3. Use More Tactics
The most effective B2B marketers use an average of 15 tactics compared to the least effective marketers who use only 10. Interestingly, the use of infographics has increased significantly with 38% of marketers using this tactic last year compared to 51% this year.
The most effective marketers understand that they have to keep up with consumers. That’s why they cast a wider net and invest in more tactics (e.g., text, images, apps, video, audio, etc.). Of course the size of your budget also dictates what you can or can’t do.
If you have a small business, why not start out with the most cost-effective tactics such as social media, e-newsletters, articles and blogs and then gradually add other tactics as your budget allows? Always be expanding your content menu; don’t be satisfied with the handful of tactics you were using last year.
#4. Use Social Media More Frequently
B2B content marketers use an average of 6 social media platforms, up from 5 last year. In addition, they’re using all social media platforms to distribute content.
As expected, LinkedIn is the top social media site used by B2B marketers, while Facebook is 10 points behind. The social sites that have experienced the biggest increase in use are SlideShare (23% last year to 40% this year), Google+ (39% to 55%) and Instagram (7% to 22%).
No content marketing initiative is complete without social media. That’s because social drives awareness of your content, which in turn impacts lead generation.
In fact, a different report from Brafton stated that 70% of consumers click through to a brand’s blog content after reading stories shared on their social networks. Once they get there, they’re more likely to download more content or fill out a form.
As a B2B marketer, you should try to repurpose your content specifically for each social channel (particularly LinkedIn) in order to capture interest and engagement. Keep in mind too that social signals (likes, retweets, +1′s, comments, shares, mentions, etc.) influence Google, thus maximizing your brand’s online exposure
#5. Produce More Content
On average, 73% of B2B marketers are producing more content than they did last year. Of the best-in-class (most effective) marketers, 78% are creating more content compared to 57% of their least effective peers.
B2B marketers are increasing their investment in content creation. Why? Because the ultimate purpose of content is to attract new customers and retain existing ones. Your content has to solve problems and answer all of your prospects’ product-related questions in order to drive those purchasing decisions. That means you have to be a content machine without sacrificing quality. If you’re not convinced that more content is better, here’s some food for thought:
At Content Marketing World 2013, a panel of experts was asked whether producing more content is better than producing less. The most compelling answers came from:
Joe Chernov: “Quantity. You can create something awesome, then it takes 3 months to create your next great thing. What happens in the meantime?”
Marcus Sheridan: “Quantity is intimidating for people who are too afraid to create content, because they think it must be epic. Let quantity lead to quality. Content marketing is not launching a rocket. Just do it.”
What do you think about these findings? Do you agree with them? Does anything surprise you? Share your comments in the box below.
6 Content Curation Tips for Delivering Maximum Value to Your Audience
Do you curate content from other sites on your own blog?
If so, you’re probably doing it one of two ways. Either you’re just posting excerpts (not the whole thing!) of other people’s articles and including a link back to the original source (this is actually called content aggregation).
Or you’re posting excerpts of other people’s articles and adding your own commentary to provide additional insights and context to the article (true content curation).
The first method offers some value to your audience in the sense that you’re doing a lot of the heavy lifting on their behalf thus giving them a quick resource for keeping up to date with relevant content. In exchange they rely on you to point them in the right direction for content on a particular topic(s). See Alltop.com as an example.
The second method offers even more value (to your audience and to you!) because adding your voice and unique perspective to the curated article tells people why the topic is important and also positions you as a trusted thought leader and expert in that area.
If you’re curating content on your website, here are 6 best practices to ensure that you’re delivering maximum value to your audience:
- Make sure the excerpt from the original source is not too long
- Include your own commentary to give insight and guidance to your audience
- Turn off your ‘no-follows’ – the no follow attribute on hyperlinks tells search engines not to give SEO credit to the site you have linked to. Don’t use no-follows on links to the original publisher.
- Make your commentary longer than the excerpt because it reduces the amount of duplicated content and is thus better for SEO value.
- Re-title the article so that you’re not competing for the same title on search engines.
- Share only the thumbnail size of the original image unless you have permission to share the full-size image
For more content curation tips check out Curata’s blog.
6 Tips for Using Content Marketing & Social Media for Any Doctor
Are you a doctor who’s interested in learning how content and social media marketing can help grow your practice?
For decades doctors were able to get away without investing too much money in advertising or marketing. Then when the Internet changed everything, many of you started to use (and are still using) costly methods of online advertising to market your practices e.g. banner ads.
The problem is patients have completely tuned out to some these tactics and developed chronic cases such as banner blindness.
According to Pew Research, today’s patients are increasingly turning towards the Internet to find information (not advertisements) about symptoms, treatment and support. That means if you want patients to find you when they go online, you need to be involved in content marketing and social media.
And in case you’re wondering how social media and content marketing are related here’s what you should know…
Both are about educating people, answering their questions, and sharing interesting news about your practice. When you do this primarily on your blog it is content marketing
But there’s more.
Social media promotion is critical to online content marketing success. Because there are millions of users on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social sites, it is very likely that people who need your medical expertise (yet don’t know that your blog exists!) are hanging out there.
The best way to reach them is by taking the stories that you’ve posted on your blog and placing them in these sites.
It’s that easy?
Well, yes and no. Yes, because once you have all your content ready, all you have to do is promote it on your social media networks. But preparation is key.
Social media is a very active space. There are a lot of interesting conversations taking place at the same time and since your target audience has a short attention span, they can get distracted very easily.
The challenge for you as a doctor using social media, is that you have to be more interesting and more creative than the other people or brands in your target audience’s network!
How do you that?
Here are 6 content marketing and social media success tips for your medical practice.
#1. Blog Regularly
If you don’t already have one, develop an editorial calendar to help you blog regularly and consistently. Remember too that social media content benefits from planning and regular updating.
You need to plan for the interesting stories that you will share on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest. Of course many of these stories will be inspired from your blog, but once in a while you may also need to add other content (photos, video, podcasts etc.) to engage audiences within those specific networks.
#2. Tell Awesome Stories
Use your blog to tell stories about your industry, practice, people and events. Each story should be unique and interesting enough to create appeal and draw new audiences on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites that you use.
Human-interest stories are very popular on social media. As a doctor, you have no shortage of such stories although you have to be careful not to violate patient privacy. Patient stories help to illustrate how your practice is impacting people’s lives, and thus generates more interest from other online audiences.
#3. Execute well
Even though 99% of patient stories are interesting by default, how you execute them on social media is very important.
For example on Facebook and Pinterest, posting visually appealing and well-edited photos will go much farther than posting links to your blog. On Twitter you will need different executions skills such as how to craft a compelling tweet with 140 characters, or how to use relevant hashtags to make it easy for people to find your content.
Every social media platform is different. It’s important for you to learn those environments and leverage their unique features to reach a wider audience with your message.
#4. Include location
One of your primary marketing goals is to attract more patients to your practice. So start by creating or updating your Facebook page, Twitter profile and Pinterest account and adding your physical location and your contact information.
When patients come in for their appointment, encourage them to ‘check-in’ to your location using Facebook Places.
Checking-in on Facebook has the same effect as word-of-mouth marketing. When a Facebook user sees (on her Newsfeed) that her friend (your patient) has checked into your location, she’ll be curious to learn more about your practice and will probably click through to your Facebook Page for more information.
#5. Work on your ‘About’ section
The ‘About’ section of your Facebook page should be optimized with keyword rich names, categories and descriptions. The words you use to describe your practice should reflect the natural conversational language that your audience uses. This will increase the likelihood of appearing on Facebook’s Graph Search results.
Similarly, the ‘About’ page of your website should not just focus on keywords that match the medical conditions you treat, but also on answering questions that typical patients would ask. Think about some of the common questions that your patients have asked in the past and update your About page with content that provides those answers.
#6. Consider contests, promotions & giveaways
Contests, promotions and giveaways are very effective ways of acquiring new clients via social media. Because contests can produce outstanding results, it’s important that you make yours stand out by offering a prize that will create excitement and enthusiasm among your audience. Giving away a free iPad has nothing to do with your practice, so don’t bother.
You can give away a relevant product with a ‘limited time only’ message to create a sense of urgency and interest. Avoid giving away free services as this might encourage people not to buy until they find out if they’ve won. To ensure high participation encourage Facebook fans to submit photos of themselves, or share stories for a chance to win.
Which of these content and social media tips have you used to market your medical practice? Please share your experience in the comment box below.
Social Listening: Consumers Don’t Like It and What Your Brand Should Do About It
It’s common for companies to listen to conversations on social media. This way, they can understand consumer opinion about brands, products, and services.
The problem is consumers don’t like it.
A 2012 study by JD Power and NetBase shows that 40% of consumers think social listening intrudes on privacy, even though this is “social media.”
The question is should users even expect to have online privacy in the first place?
Last summer Google basically told a federal court that people who care about privacy should not use their service and as Molly Wood, executive editor at CNET subsequently pointed out:
“Google reads your e-mail, knows what’s in your calendar, looks at your photos, and knows who your friends are, and that’s just via its in-house services. When you include the breadth of its search, Google knows everything about you that’s public information, from your address to all your online profiles, to your marital status and much, much more.”
I think part of the misunderstanding between consumers and marketers is that they look at privacy differently. Marketers spend a lot of time online – researching, studying and trying to understand how vast amounts of online data can be used to improve services.
But consumers aren’t as informed (no disrespect) about online data and how it’s used. Most of the time, they’re just afraid that their personal information is being used for something “covert” and they don’t like it.
But I want to have my cake and eat it too!
What’s interesting is that consumers want it both ways. They don’t necessarily want brands listening to their conversations, but they definitely expect them [brands] to respond if a consumer has a complaint!
There is no magic formula to help brands figure out what to do. What’s clear though is that marketers have to act in such a way that consumers are persuaded about the benefits of social listening.
What’s a brand to do…?
At the end of the day it’s all about respecting the customer, always getting their permission and going out of your way to explain why you need specific personal information from them. Here’s what social listening should look like:
- Don’t just listen; understand the full picture before you respond.
- Consider the context of online updates and conversations – your response should always satisfy consumers’ expectations.
- Engage with the intention of delivering mutual value i.e. better experience and incredible customer service.
- Demonstrate how listening builds relationships, rather than simply ‘intruding’ on consumers’ conversations.
The benefits that come from social listening end up flowing through to consumers as well. Marketers should therefore be bold about educating their customers and explaining how online conversations are used. This not only builds consumer trust, it also alleviates fears based on lack of knowledge.
What do you think? How should marketers behave in order to leverage the benefits of social listening? Please leave your feedback in the comment box below.
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