Digital Marketing

All posts tagged Digital Marketing

Quality Versus Quantity and 3 Reasons Why Your Content isn’t Moving

by Joanne Dolezal on 28th October 2019

When it comes to content marketing, the quality versus quantity debate just got serious. Based on Buzzsumo’s 2019 publication of analysis of content performance on the platform, new challenges face content marketers.

Changes in software, social media platforms and messaging apps create fresh challenges if you are designing marketing and sales strategy for your organisation.

These three key challenges are content shock (or saturation), changes in social media affecting content performance and the need to increase content quality or compete on content quantity.

Key Challenges for Content Marketers

Content shock and information density

When Mark Schaefer first talked about Content Shock in a 2014 blog, many in the content and digital marketing world predicted the end of ‘content’ as a strategy.

Schaefer was writing in response to a huge increase in the volume of content being published hourly on every digital channel and the finite number of hours we human beings have in the average day to consume it.

Schaefer is a leading light in the content marketing world and his blog, Content Shock – Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy, created a tsunami of comments. Many agreed, some disagreed, but the core idea, that content marketing may not be a sustainable strategy for some businesses is not to be dismissed out of hand.

This is how Mark Schaefer described it:

“Content Shock: The emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it”.

The challenge that Schaefer was facing as a blogger and podcaster was that he was essentially ‘paying’ people to consume his content. It takes time to produce, especially podcasts, and although it is free to self-publish online, there is a time cost involved: number of hours x hourly rate, for example. Time that could be used more profitably elsewhere. The ROI would be delivered further down the line from the number of website visits, leads and conversions.

With the sharp increase in content published across all channels in recent years, there is a greater supply of information to the customer and more competition for their attention. If demand does not increase as sharply – due to the finite capacity to consume digital content – then the business would see a diminishing ROI (or ROTI – Return On Time Invested).

If the time cost had to increase (for better quality content), or the volume of web traffic decreased (due to increase in competing content) then the time cost may increase to such a level that it ceases to be a viable strategy for some businesses. Especially those of you who are in a sector or industry where there is a huge volume of competing content.

The concepts of the Money Value of Time (MVOT) along with the Return on Time Invested (ROTI), originally developed by Rory Vaden, are particularly relevant to content marketing. It is a viable strategy for no- or low-budget marketers, but only up to a point.

“Over time, the low budget content producers are eased out of the consumer mindshare as we “pay” more for their attention. Pay with their time, or increasingly pay to increase the distribution of content via social media or digital channels.” Schaefer

Marcus Sheridan, another leading light in the US content marketing world wrote a blog, Six Arguments Against Content Shock, arguing that:

  • great content will always win;
  • it costs no more to produce great content;
  • content shock is irrelevant if you have an identified niche;
  • customers will always research purchases and seek answers;
  • content marketing does not require a big budget;
  • and technology will provide the solution to finite consumer demand (for content).

His content marketing philosophy – listening, communicating and teaching – goes some way to explaining his point of view and belief in quality versus quantity.

“To me, that’s all we’re striving to do here. And because these words are the core of content marketing, and because they’re also principle based, the value of this will never go away. Listening will always be critical in business.”

Effective communication will always dramatically impact consumers. And powerful teaching will always be the key to generating consumer trust and action.” Sheridan

So, on one side we have ‘measurable results’ and on the other we have ‘relationship building’ – not necessarily at odds with each other, until the increase in competition for customers attention reaches a level that is unsustainable. It could also be when others in your company raise questions about whether this is the best strategy, the best use of your time and budget.

“Of course there are always exceptions in business and everyone can point to their favourite “David” beating a Goliath. But the economics of content marketing are straightforward: create lots of great content that can be discovered by customers and potential customers. If you can saturate your market, all the better.” Schaefer

Fast forward to 2018, and the publication in January of Content Trends 2018 – BuzzSumo Report by Steve Rayson (BuzzSumo is a paid research and monitoring tool).

The report (and accompanying slide show) present their latest research and findings based on analysis of content performance across the BuzzSumo platform. To add credibility, they share the performance analytics of their own content too.

What they found is worrying, wherever you sit on the ‘purpose of content marketing’ swingometre. They track content performance based on shares, likes and comments.

First the bad news.

On average, social shares have more than halved since 2015. They looked at the median number as opposed to average number.

In 2015, the median number of shares was 8.

In 2017 it was as little as 4.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Content Shock, or Information Density as BuzzSumo call it, is evidently having an impact as more content competes for attention.

So too is the increase in private sharing, so-called “dark social media”. People are sharing content more frequently via apps (including Slack, Whatsapp, Messenger, etc), within email or text message. You can’t see (or measure) the true number of shares your social media posts and other content have earned. You can only see engagement in the form of likes, comments, shares/retweets when performed directly on your own online platforms or on social media.

Facebook changes have had a significant impact on content performance, especially ‘reach’. In 2017, Facebook warned brands and publishers that due to the tremendous quantity of content now being published directly onto the platform, they were going to limit the number of posts and ads Facebook users were served (shown) each visit.

Brands who had spent years building their Facebook followers, saw the true organic reach of their Facebook content plummet along with engagement and referral traffic to their website.

“Facebook Armageddon”

In 2018, Facebook announced that it would now be limiting the number or ads served to Facebook users each visit too.

This has obliged brands to ‘pay to play’ on Facebook.

Other changes among the big social media players have also had a knock-on effect on sharing (and engagement).

  1. YouTube has been plagued by scandal as ‘video nasties’ pursue the same target audiences as big household brands in an attempt to have maximum exposure and impact.

2. Google+ has become largely irrelevant.

3. Twitter has recently ‘outlawed’ repeated posts – a common distribution tactic for evergreen content.

4. Even LinkedIn referral traffic is down as all the social media platforms compete for attention, time users spend on their platform and advertising revenue.

Not surprisingly, many brands are revising their entire social media strategy as a result.

3 top reasons for decline in content sharing - BuzzSumo report 2018

3 top reasons for decline in content sharing – BuzzSumo report 2018

Now the good news.

A number of online publishers have apparently ‘bucked the trend’.

The New York Times has actually seen shares of its online content (news) treble over time, since 2015. The Economist and Harvard Business Review had also seen an increase in social shares since 2015 – not in all content but in some content.

The conclusion that Rayson draws is that in an age of ‘fake news’ and information density, quality may trump quantity.

These online publishers already have a reputation, earned over many years in traditional media, for producing well-researched, informative, long-form and credible ‘news’. Rayson suggests that “people are more selective in their sharing” as they want to share something worthwhile with their audience.

Linked In sharing is also up so this is good news for B2B (business to business) brands.

New York Times - BuzzSumo report 2018

Average shares of New York Times content treble – BuzzSumo report 2018

 

In short, the volume of content has significantly increased and median shares have halved since 2015 but in some areas, such as news or analysis (The New York Times, The Economist, Harvard Business Review, etc) there has been a slow but steady increase in shares.

In the same period ‘clickbait’ content – with an eye-catching title but little substance – has seen a significant drop in shares and performance.

The Flight to Quality…

All of this together would suggest a preference for quality, well-researched and credible content that will presumably deliver value to those with whom it is shared, versus quantity. It also enhances the reputation of the brand or individual who has curated and shared quality content.

Many marketers and agencies turn to marketing automation as the solution to ‘quantity’ of content published, and whilst this may help in the short term, it won’t improve the quality of content created.

“Content Shock isn’t the problem, it’s the solution. By producing high quality, core evergreen content, and also regular content such as news, updates and practical tips, you provide less opportunity for new entrants who will struggle to gain attention.” Rayson

You can certainly compete on quality and you may not need to win the quantity game depending on the sector or industry you are in.

You just need to reach, convince and convert enough of your target customers to succeed.

Where do you start?

Our online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

Don’t leave without “The Easy Guide to Content Marketing”.

 

Photo by ytcount on Unsplash

If you’d like see the full BuzzSumo presentation:

read more
Joanne DolezalQuality Versus Quantity and 3 Reasons Why Your Content isn’t Moving

How to Manage Contact Data and Stay on the Right Side of GDPR

by Joanne Dolezal on 17th June 2019

It’s so tempting to take shortcuts to building your database of contacts, like buying lists, scraping contact data (off the internet) or ‘borrowing’ contact data from other businesses.

When data collection is done properly, though, it makes a huge difference to the quality of your email lists, your marketing budget and the success of your email campaigns.

The money’s in the list.

Or is it. We are told that the bigger the list, the greater the success, because you have a larger number of people you can convert to take action. But think about the quality of the personal (contact) data you have retained. Your mailing list may only have 300 people on it, but you may know them all: they’ve bought from you in the past and were happy with the experience. Every time you go back to them they will buy again. Those 300 personal contacts are worth 10,000 email addresses you obtained from other, more questionable sources.

Of course you can still buy customer data even now, but it will convert at the same low rate it always did (<1%). You can ‘borrow’ or scrape data from other sources, but the media have done a great job of raising consumer awareness of GDPR and the rights of the individual – so expect to get ‘spam’ reports and possible complaints. These could even lead to fines if you’re unlucky.

Alternatively, if you develop a longer term strategy you can build your mailing lists ethically and legally. In the next few weeks we’ll be sharing a variety of online and offline tactics you can use to build (or rebuild) your contact data and mailing lists.

Now for some good news

There is no restriction on emailing or texting “corporate bodies”, just the named individuals who work there. These are the so-called ‘Data Subjects’ and the law is just as strict for B2B as it is for B2C, sadly.

There is no restriction on postal mail (brochures, invitations, nifty branded campaigns) to “corporate bodies”. However, individuals need to be offered an easy way to opt out.

Ways to obtain consent to communications

It’s important to get the foundations right so you will no doubt already have gone through the following actions to bring your data gathering and usage in line with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Just to recap though:

  • make the request prominent, concise and in plain English
  • Separate it from your Ts & Cs
  • Name your business and any third party recipients
  • Tell Data Subjects (whose personal contact data you have) what you want to do with their personal data and why you want it
  • Emphasise the ability to withdraw consent at any time
  • Don’t use pre-ticked boxes or default settings
  • Keep records – who consented, how and what were they told
  • Review consents regularly and refresh them when there’s any change in use

The ICO – Information Commissioners Office – is overseeing the implementation (and policing) of GDPR in the UK and they have a range of excellent guides on how GDPR should be interpreted and implemented.

If you are a new business or in the early stages of marketing, take some time to get your data management processes set up. There are many sources or free advice and freeware (free software) to help you. Alternatively you might want to work with a marketing consultant or agency to advise you.

If you are a more mature business, GDPR may well be a good opportunity to refresh databases generally and comply with other existing regulations, like the Data Protection Act 2018.

Stay on the Right Side of GDPR

1. Get the opt-in wording right and run it past a legal adviser if you’re unsure (or you are gathering sensitive data through forms on your website).

2. Make the language clear and unambiguous

3. Review the areas on your website that allow sign ups, subscriptions and enquiries – add an invitation to join your mailing list and a link to your privacy policy

4. Check and review your cookie and privacy policies – are they easy to find?

GDPR came into effect on the 25th May 2018 and will be ‘managed’ in the UK by the ICO (Information Commissioners Office). Any breaches reported to them will be investigated.

GDPR – all you need to know – can be found at https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/ – no need to recycle their guidelines.

In the next article, we’ll explore more ways of building your lists ethically and legally.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.

 

read more
Joanne DolezalHow to Manage Contact Data and Stay on the Right Side of GDPR

GDPR Impacts More Than Just Your Email Marketing

by Joanne Dolezal on 10th June 2019

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is certainly on everyone’s mind at the moment whether you have anything to do with marketing, collection or storing personal data or not.

GDPR impacts more than just your email marketing – it will apply to our ‘business to business’ activity in the same way as ‘business to consumer’ communications – if you are gathering, using and storing personal (or sensitive) data you have some new responsibilities.

GDPR comes into effect on the 25th May 2018 and will be ‘managed’ in the UK by the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) and any breaches reported to them will be investigated.

They are going to be very busy.

GDPR – all you need to know – can be found at https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/ so I’m not planning to recycle their guidelines.

“GDPR has been called the Data Protection Act with ‘teeth’.”

You are now expected to abide by the law and there are a couple of new changes that may affect the way you use email marketing in the future.

Permission now needs to be explicit, not implicit

Email marketing is known as permission-based marketing, (like mobile marketing). You need to have permission to email somebody, and they need to have shared their contact details with you willingly and consciously, either through a single or a double opt-in.

When you sign up for someone’s mailing list, an email is often sent to you to confirm you want to be added to that list. It’s a good way to check the email address exists and that there are no typos or keystroke errors.

If you’ve ever had to cleanse a database, you’ll know what a total pain keystroke errors are.

You only have permission to communicate about the transaction in hand

If you are providing a service or selling products, you are free to email and write to the customer in order to deliver or the transaction. You are not meant to just quietly add them to your mailing list and hope they don’t notice…

You need to make it easy to opt in and opt out

This applies to every single campaign that you send – permission-based marketing – so hiding or disabling the unsubscribe link is not a great idea.

We need to be aware of SPAM, because it’s a bad thing, particularly if you’re using email marketing software. If there’s even a whiff of spam, your account can be suspended and your wrists slapped.

Uh-Oh, Unsolicited Email Alert

An email could even be a one-to-one communication, but if the recipient has never heard of you and doesn’t your company name, then they didn’t give you permission. Some examples include first contact, sales or job enquiries.

Bulk Email? Tsk, tsk, tsk

Bulk email is normal email but can include subscriber newsletters, customer communications and so on, where an identical message is being sent to one or more people at one time. Even if you send it to just two people if they feel it’s SPAM and unsolicited then in the eyes of the law, it is.

So what is SPAM*?

a) Pink and nasty processed pork that reminds us of school dinners?

b) Bulk email that is also unsolicited?

c) The number one reason for your email software to be shut down?

SPAM is email that is also unsolicited – people didn’t want to hear from you, didn’t sign up to your list and don’t understand why you’re emailing them. Often the content of the email is inappropriate or irrelevant and you should avoid doing this at all costs.

“Let’s face it, if GDPR can remove or even reduce the huge volumes of SPAM emails we get each day, it will be a welcome change.”

Why are you still buying contact data?

SPAM (unsolicited and junk messages) can get you into hot water if you have bought data or someone else has shared their mailing list with you. You may not have permission to contact them and the data can be really old, or contain lots of keystroke errors in the database. If you upload it into email marketing software and people on the list complain that they’ve been spammed, your account can be suspended pending an investigation. It’s not worth the risk, so be careful and avoid it. 

Also, as every frustrated marketer knows, bought data has a tiny conversion rate – if you’re lucky. And it can get you into real trouble with your email service provider, as well as the ICO.

The game-changer for all users of personal data, post-GDPR

All the guidelines above have been covered by the Data Protection Act and followed by the majority of marketers and data managers for years.

The really scary bit, especially for small businesses who don’t have a dedicated IT manager, is the legal responsibility to store personal data securely (yes, that includes your b2b customers as well).

“We live in an age when hacking, malware and ransomware are an everyday occurrence and no organisation it too big to be targeted.”

The fines if you fail to inform the ICO and all people affected within 72 hours are eye-wateringly huge.

This is why Sony wasn’t fined when they were hacked, but Yahoo was. They didn’t admit it until long afterwards.

If you have any concerns about the security of your software, hardware, cloud-based systems then I sincerely recommend working your way through the UK government’s own Cyber Essentials guidelines https://www.cyberessentials.ncsc.gov.uk/ and beefing up your cybersecurity.

* Answer: it is a, c. Are you old enough to remember spam fritters for school dinners?

In the next article, we’ll explore more ways of building your lists ethically and legally.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.

read more
Joanne DolezalGDPR Impacts More Than Just Your Email Marketing

Why Your Email Marketing is Failing and How to Fix It

by Joanne Dolezal on 3rd June 2019

In this new series, we’ll be looking at the common reasons that businesses get their email marketing wrong, and how you can avoid the making the same mistakes.

One of the biggest problems that businesses have with their email marketing is that they start in the wrong place. We’ve all done it – you’ve got so much you want to say, and your focus is on the email you’re sending out – but you need to start at the beginning.

You need to look at how you’re going to gather good quality contact data and that you’re allowed to use it, and then how are you going to build insights and an understanding of those people so that your email campaigns are things that they really want to receive. They shouldn’t just be you and what you’ve been doing.

GDPR will revolutionise the way that email marketing is done – and the way you build your lists and manage permissions.

So why is email marketing important?

If I told you that for every pound you spend on it you get a return of £40 or more – that might explain it. A recent report from Wolfgang Jaegel on the ROI of Email Marketing was produced from a deep piece of research in 2014 on how email is used worldwide. There were some staggering results, including how many people have email accounts and what they use them for.

95% of online consumers use email, and many of us regularly buy from email campaigns or are encouraged to visit a store as a direct result. UK brand marketers say that email marketing is of most benefit for customer retention. 91% of consumers check their emails once a day, so you’ve got a good chance of catching someone’s attention.

What do You Need to Get Started?

Email marketing is one of the best conversion tools around, but you need a valid email address for the person you want to contact, and ideally a first and last name. It’s difficult to get started without these.

You need a first name if you want to address them by name – if you want to embed any kind of personalisation into your campaigns you’ll need that. It also helps you to manage your data, particularly if you have people who have one or more names in common. You need information (insights) about them too so that you can make your campaigns relevant to them.

An email marketing campaign can be carried out just as easily from Outlook, Mail or the email software you have on your computer, although most of us would use email marketing software, such as MailChimp, as these allow you to send bulk messages to a group of people.

See email marketing as an opportunity to get into somebody’s inbox and get their attention at that particular time and day. Unfortunately, it has been badly abused, characterised by a lot of spam email. Over the last five to eight years there have been considerable changes, seeing greater sophistication in how we apply marketing. The uptake of content marketing has also had a positive impact, especially to the customer.

You want to get as close as you can to what the customer is asking for, answering their questions and considering their needs and desires.

Email marketing can support other online and offline marketing campaigns and is the perfect ‘call to action’.

 What we will look at in this series:

·     why successful email marketing starts with quality data

·     the best ways to build your email lists ethically & legally

·    strategies for collecting contact data online in line with GDPR

·     best ways to collect data offline to build customer insight

·     why your segmentation strategy needs a reboot

·     the power of personalisation to increase your conversion rates

 

In the next article, we’ll explore the many ways of building your lists ethically and legally.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.

read more
Joanne DolezalWhy Your Email Marketing is Failing and How to Fix It

To Pay or Not to Pay… for Facebook Ads

by Joanne Dolezal on 3rd May 2019

It is so easy to start advertising on Facebook but how can you apply it to your business marketing and avoid the pitfalls? In this article we explore the advantages and disadvantages of Facebook advertising.

 Facebook is pretty much unavoidable! Over two billion people around the world now have a Facebook personal profile, which is more than a quarter of the planet.

One factor in its global success has to be the mobile app. Let’s face it, it works beautifully, so you can snap, record and post directly from your smartphone.

Another factor is that it’s more democratic than some forms of online media, because you don’t need to have a lot of hardware or a fixed internet connection to access it.

With over 2 billion smartphones now in use around the world, even those in the developing world can join the Facebook community.

Facebook has also been shopping: Messenger, What’s App, Instagram, Pinterest et al have dramatically increased Facebook’s user base. Facebook now has a staggering 2.07 billion active users. Whenever a user interacts with any post, ad, status update, check-in, voucher, etc, Facebook gathers the data and stores it away for future use.

This article is not intended as a ‘how-to’ guide, more as a ‘why to’. Along the way, we’ll look at some of the Pros and Cons.

Facebook Advertising Features

You can run a variety of promotions and advertisements from your Facebook Page, but must be a ‘Page Admin’ and have added a payment card to your account details).

You can Boost posts, run a variety of Adverts designed to work at different stages of the Buyer Journey, Split Test a variety of message and design combinations, create Custom Audiences and set up Remarketing campaigns (with the handy pixel generator).

To Boost, or Not to Boost…

You can start advertising on your own Page. When you post an update, publish a note (blog), create an event or upload an image or video. There are various functions available: ‘schedule’, ‘back-date’, ‘save as a draft’ or ‘publish’. Once it’s published, you have the option to ‘Boost’ it, to ‘people who like your page’, ‘people who like your page and their friends’ or a Target Audience.

 

Pros It’s deceptively easy to start by boosting posts (from as little as £1 per day) but it’s better to promote them through the Ads Manager.

In the Ads Manager you’ll find better targeting tools and you’ll have more control over how your budget is allocated over the time you stipulated.

Cons It’s deceptively easy to start by boosting posts….

Even if you’ve set your daily budget and campaign duration, Facebook may not spread it as thinly as you would like.  Leave it up to Facebook and they may ‘dump’ all your ad budget on the first day.

Facebook Target Audiences

A ‘Target Audience’ is a group of people you want to target with a set of shared attributes or characteristics. They could be similar to your existing Page Likes, or they could be a completely new type of audience. This means you can reach people beyond your Page Likes.

You will probably have slightly different messages for each of these target audiences. They could refer to specific location, time, topic, offer, whatever you decide.

It’s easy to boost posts and you can do it directly on your Page. It costs as little as £1 per day and you set the duration of your campaign. Just calculate how much money you want to spend and adjust the budget accordingly.

Based on your selection of target audience, daily budget and duration of campaign Facebook will give you an estimate of the number of people you may reach.

You may want to experiment with the Boost function for a while.  To avoid having a Page full of similar posts, use your drop-down toggle to hide posts (once they’re published and boosted).

I’ve run whole campaigns for clients just on this type of advertising, and it works well but in my experience, it works best if you have:

  • a good story
  • great photography
  • something that’s really appealing
  • something time-limited
  • and something that fits in with the way people use Facebook.

Facebook ads can be a good way to test ideas and concepts, including designs, get people to engage and promote in a cost-effective way.

Pros Great targeting, well beyond the information people share in their profiles about themselves, capturing data about all the interactions they have on Facebook.

It’s great for location, demographics, age and gender. interests.

Behaviour and interest targeting on Facebook is superb, and it’s an excellent way to help you get more focused and tighten your targeting.

If you get the right group of people, the conversion rate will be far greater.

 Cons You need to flex the numbers (adjusting who you are targeting) to make sure your ads will reach enough people to deliver the number of results you need.

Facebook Ads Manager

 When it comes to advertising, Facebook offers you various options.

When you go into Facebook’s advertising tools (Ads Manager), you need to ‘start with the end in mind’.

First, you’ll be asked to state your objective. This could be raising awareness of your business, products or services. You may choose consideration – getting people to take you seriously or visit your website. Alternatively, you be looking for a lead from them, either a phone number or an email address.

 

Are you hoping that social media can help you convert the person who’s interested in you, by increasing conversions on your website or by redeeming an offer?

Facebook offers you a menu to choose from: what you want people to do, which clarifies your objective. This is similar across all the platforms, so understanding the basics here will help you use other platforms too.

Advantages of Facebook Advertising There is a potential reach of 2+ billion and it integrates well with other apps and media.

Facebook wants you to spend all your time on their platform.  This is why it works well on mobile devices, laptops and also with things such as Facebook Live. Many people also use it to log into other tools and applications they use.

 Disadvantages of Facebook Advertising The click-through rate (CTR) is as low as 0.01% – 0.04% (DigitalMarketingInstitute.com).  This is less than you’d expect for PPC (pay-per-click) or display ads via the Google AdWords or Google Display Network.

This could be because people don’t go onto Facebook to interact with adverts, or there’s just so much content on there that your ads get swamped.

What advantages or disadvantages have you found when you’ve advertised on Facebook? Please share your experience in the comments section below.

In the next blog we’ll look at more Facebook ad tools: Custom Audiences, Split Testing and Remarketing.

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thoughtleaders.

Our new online programme Content Marketing Conquered is designed with you in mind. Based on our successful workshop programme and latest strategies, we guide you to the top in 6 easy steps.

Don’t leave without grabbing your free eBook.

 

Photo by Will Francis on Unsplash

read more
Joanne DolezalTo Pay or Not to Pay… for Facebook Ads