Marketing Strategy

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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:

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

Mobile First and Live Streaming Video Help You Succeed in Social Media

by Joanne Dolezal on 12th October 2018

The rise and rise of the smartphone and ‘mobile first’ strategies has meant that your customers expect to find you on their mobile phone. Sure, they’ll use a desktop or laptop sometimes, but they are just as likely to research, select and buy ‘on the move’ (on their mobile devlce).  The functionality on a smartphone, coupled with 4G broadband has enabled us to watch films, catch up on our favourite TV shows, follow vloggers and learn from ‘how to’ videos. The jump to live streaming video, where your audience can become part of the show, via comments or questions, is truly amazing.

Live Streaming Video

The world wide web has spawned dozens of social media platforms. We’ve gone from long, text-heavy social media to short and sweet posts, with photos and video.

Clients regularly ask me about the latest platforms and features. As you will no doubt know, video is increasingly popular, but in the last two years, live video streaming has becoming more accessible. Live Hangouts on Air (now YouTube Live), Facebook Live and Periscope are popular tools, and allow you to have guest contributors. Unlike GoToWebinar and Zoom, (as well as the many webinar tools) they are also FREE, so if you want to give them a go, there’s no big upfront investment required.

They’re also useful because you can usually access a recording of the discussion later on, although it’s not always easy to extract it for use elsewhere. Once you do, though, you have a recording that you can share again and again or repurpose for other platforms.

You do need to have a moderator, or co-host, as trolls can pop in and be really unpleasant on some platforms. If you are hosting alone, you will find it really distracting.

Top Tip: vary your media to appeal to different ‘learning’ styles. Not everyone’s a reader / listener / viewer

 

Mobile First = Right Time and Place

Your customer is increasingly mobile… and so are you. This means that your content can be accessed and consumed literally any time, anywhere.

You no longer have any control over the device your customers and audience use, so adopt a mobile first approach.  Your website, blog, social media and email need to look good on mobile. Full stop.

Google now penalises you if your website is not mobile friendly by not presenting you in mobile search results. But mobile friendly is more than just templates, images and fonts. It’s also the chance to create content in real time, on the go, capturing the moment.

Guess what… all the social media platforms have a bias towards ‘live’ social media activity versus scheduled.  So, make sure you have the apps for your social media accounts on your phone and get posting.

The Right Place

Success will depend on picking the right social media platform to connect you with your target customers.

I recommend picking just one, then adding more once you’re comfortable with each one and you know why you’re using it.

The most important thing, beyond finding your customers on social media, is making sure you show up only where (and when) you are welcome. Otherwise, expect to be ignored.

Top Tip: research and test to find the social media platform where customers are most happy to hear from you. Otherwise, you may just become ‘background noise’.

The Right Time

Scheduling your content requires a bit of advance planning, but it’s a more efficient way of working and allows you to create better content and posts.  Remember mobile first – if it works and looks right on mobile, it’ll work anywhere.

When you invest time in thinking and planning, you create something meaningful and of better quality. Quality trumps quantity every day of the week.

Repetition of messages, links to content (content seeding) and sharable content will help you reach your customer at the right time in their customer journey.

  Top Tip: ‘mobile first’ and mobile friendly – brief copy, clear images and subtitles for silent ‘viewers’.

The Right Message

Make sure you’re really making an effort to post content that’s interesting to your target customer, rather than just updates about your brand, products and services.

Have you developed your buyer personas yet? It will help you focus on them.

It’s fine to have a mixture of content formats and topics. It’s also fine to have some messages that are about you, your brand and products, but always flip it on its head: what’s in it for your readers?

Can you turn it into a benefit in some way?

Top Tip: your customer is at the epicentre of their own universe.

Remember, it’s all about them

Build It, or Buy It

There’s probably no point in buying followers, because they won’t convert to customers. It’s better to attract followers gradually, based on genuine affinity, as they may well want to become your customers one day. Using a scheduling tool can save you time and send out content on your behalf to keep engaging with these people.

Top Tip: bought contact data & social media followers are the hardest to convert.

Are your Goals for Social Media ‘SMART’ Enough?

There are so many different ways of communicating with people now, and like with learning styles, we all have our preferences. But, think about what your target customers really like, and give them what they want.

Top Tip: be selective, focus on quality and be realistic about how much social media can add to your marketing.

And the most important tip, last

Consistency is vital. Plan, schedule and post good quality content on a regular basis. Curate and share others’ good quality content too. Remember the 80:20 rule.

It may take a while to build you social media audience but ask yourself:

Question: How long do you intend to be in business anyway?

When you look at it this way, you can see why building a following doesn’t need to happen overnight.

We hope you enjoy the The Three Rs of Social Media Success.

Why not check out the other blogs in the series:

  1. The Three ‘Rs’ of Social Media Success
  2. Know the Right Place for Social Media Success
  3. How do You Know the Right Time for Your Customers on Social Media
  4. Get the Right Message: Get their Attention
  5. Build Your Social Media Following versus Buying Reach and Followers
  6. Are your Goals ‘SMART’ Enough for Social Media Success?
  7. Mobile First and Live Streaming Video Help You Succeed in Social Media

If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and give your social media a rethink.

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

Ready to take the next step? Download your free Content marketing eBook today.

 

Photo by Rahul Chakraborty on Unsplash

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Joanne DolezalMobile First and Live Streaming Video Help You Succeed in Social Media

Content Marketing – Conquered

by Joanne Dolezal on 27th March 2016

Content Marketing ~ Conquered is a highly interactive full-day workshop designed to kick-start your Content Marketing journey.  Whether you’re an absolute beginner or have made a few false starts, learn how to get the ‘Content’ habit.

Content Marketing is fast becoming an essential skill for any business and with recent changes in Google, the question is no longer ‘if’ but ‘when’ are you going to start.

You will learn:

  1. why Content Marketing is now essential for your business
  2. how to create great content that works
  3. what Content Marketing can do for your website traffic, clicks and sales

Included in this 6 hour session:

  • the different types of content for B2B and B2C marketing
  • how each type of content works to promote you and your business
  • buyer personas v. customer segmentation
  • how to find your perfect ‘blogger’ type and get comfortable with creating content
  • essential copywriting skills – Expert Q&A (see below)
  • how to define your online value proposition or USP
  • how to use podcasts, webinars and video to promote your brand
  • Content Marketing for SEO – Expert Q&A (see below)
  • when to ‘buy in’ and when to ‘DIY’ content
  • ‘Paid, Owned and Earned’ Media – where to invest time and money
  • best content for different Social Media and Mobile Marketing
  • how to generate great content ideas every day

By the end of the workshop, you will have gained a clear understanding of how Content Marketing works and how to apply to your business immediately.

For more information or to find out if this workshop is ‘for you’ and your team, please call Joanne Dolezal on 07767 810 126 or email joanne@dolezalconsulting.com

This workshop can be delivered at your premises or a venue of your choosing.

This workshop will be delivered by Dolezal Consulting with support from Arttia Creative and Haydn Grey.

Joanne Dolezal is an experienced marketer who has presented on Content Marketing at NECC, ISMM, Cumbria, and North East Expo events and regularly applies it to clients’ marketing – to great effect. Joanne holds an MA Marketing and teaches Digital Marketing at NESMA.

Belinda White, Arttia Creative will be on hand to answer questions on SEO and Content for the web; Katherine Wildman, Haydn Grey will guide you through the fundamentals of copywriting for online content.

 

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Joanne DolezalContent Marketing – Conquered

What Digital Marketing Means for Business Owners

by Joanne Dolezal on 3rd October 2014

Digital Marketing (also known as Internet, Web or Online Marketing) is a collective name for marketing activity carried out online, as opposed to traditional marketing through print media, live promotions, TV and radio advertising.

The rapid growth of Digital Marketing is due to ever-increasing access to and speed of the Internet.  Digital Marketing channels are increasingly effective at generating revenue and raising awareness.

Compared to traditional marketing methods such as direct marketing, trade shows and advertising, Digital Marketing often requires a much smaller investment (important for small and medium-size businesses and start-ups).  It also allows for accurate targeting and excellent reporting, making it far easier for even the lay person to judge whether digital marketing activities are having the desired effect or not.

The differences between tradition ‘campaign’ style marketing and digital marketing are:

Circular versus Linear

Digital marketing encourages you to research, target, test, modify and repeat and tends to be a continuous circular process of learning and modification until you get it right.  Traditional marketing campaigns take a lot of planning, but once they’ve ‘left the building’ there’s nothing you can do to change them.

Targeted versus Broadcast

Over time it is possible to gather and analyse enough data on your target customers that you save considerable time and effort communicating with them.  Either via email or mobile marketing, you can send direct messages to your target and past customers to build trust and loyalty.  Imagine how much time, money and uncertainty this saves you as you can track opens, clicks and conversions online.

Flexibility versus Committed

Because you have more control over the who, what, when, where of digital marketing you can control and modify the start and end of any activities within reason, rather than finding you are fixed into a longterm commitment that is either not working for you – based on digital metrics – or not generating the ROI (Return on Investment) you require. Response times are much faster too and campaigns can be set up and delivered in hours, rather than weeks or months.

‘Low’ or ‘no cost’ versus Expensive!

Print and broadcast media, whilst still effective at brand building, are beyond the means of all but a few businesses.  The proliferation of TV networks and channels, online publications and even digital broadcasting have meant that it is ever harder to reach the whole population but who wants to anyway?  You want the ‘right customers’ for your business as they’re more likely to buy from you.  ‘Laser vision’ trumps ‘spray and pray’.

The benefits of incorporating Digital Marketing in your Marketing Mix

It allows for accurate targeting and excellent reporting, making it far easier for even the lay person to judge whether digital marketing activities are having the desired effect or not.

What does Digital Marketing include?

Digital Marketing covers everything to do with your website, including Search Engine Optimisation – getting found online – and measuring where visitors to your website are coming from, what they’re at and which pages are most popular, among other things.

Driving visitors to your website, especially an e-commerce website, is essential if you want to achieve a healthy level of sales.  Tactics include Search Engine Marketing – anticipating and targeting the language customers use to find products and services like yours – and Pay Per Click advertising – display adverts online.

Social Media is also a Digital Marketing tactic and works well to raise awareness of your brand and create weak links: it takes time, thought and regular effort to build trust with potential customers.

Email Marketing and Mobile Marketing allow you to send targeted communications to a (potential) customers inbox or mobile phone.  Both require the recipient’s permission and are just as effective for Customer Retention as for Customer Acquisition.

Mobile Marketing in particular has evolved from SMS (text message) based communications to encompass Mobile ‘friendly’ Marketing, with developments in smartphone and tablet technology.  If your website is hard to navigate or looks too small on a smartphone screen – and 40% of Google searches are made on a mobile device –  you may be losing a lot of custom unnecessarily.

So what could digital marketing mean for your business?

Get in touch to find out more

Joanne Dolezal teaches Digital Marketing for North East Sales and Marketing Academy (NESMA) for the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI).

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Joanne DolezalWhat Digital Marketing Means for Business Owners