Sword and the Script

9 Sweeping Lessons from Content Marketing Benchmarking Study



by Frank Strong

top content marketing goals
In January, research firm Ascend2 released a study of 521 sales and marketing professionals which was conducted through an online panel. The report published in January 2014, Content Marketing Benchmarking Summary, was covered in part by eMarketer and I recently went back to take a closer look at the findings.

The surveyors didn’t break out the demographics by role or seniority, and instead called them “decision makers” which seems to be a catch-all phrase in surveys of late. I would have also been very interested to know the break out between functions — specifically between sales and marketing — but I generally think it’s smart to include sales in any content marketing study.

The study itself was just about the data and graphics, and in this post, I’ve added fairly substantial interpretation about a) what it means and b) what marketers should do about it:

1. Top goals for content marketing

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Infographic: Influence Marketing Predictions



by Frank Strong

influence-marketing-infographic-header

Not too long ago, Gina Gulberti of Augure, a European-based PR and marketing software vendor, reached out to me with a few questions on influence marketing.

When I answered her questions I figured it she would use them for a blog post and that would be that.  A few days later, the company published this post 5 predictions about Influence Marketing…and an accompanied with an infographic.

There it was – my mug right next to the mugs of Brian Solis, Kevin Dugan, Arik Hanson and Roxane Papagiannopou – all folks I’ve gotten to know in some way shape or form over the last five years or so. The infographic caught me by surprise – but it struck me as clever content marketing and an effective way to repurpose content.

Here’s the complete Q&A from my email exchange with Gina and the infographic follows below: Read More…

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7 Attitudes for Effective Content Marketing (101)



by Frank Strong

7 Attitudes for Effective Content Marketing

“Content marketing” means providing information that educates a customer or prospective customer enabling them to make an informed purchasing decision. Instead of hard-selling products or services business use content they create to engage and inform prospects to turn them into fans, and turn existing fans into fanatics.

Content marketing is not new. The tractor company, John Deere, launched a print magazine called The Furrow more than 100 years ago. This was not a sales brochure, but a media publication with bona fide editorial content that was mailed to farmers.

The concept is simple: by providing educational material, John Deere became a trusted source of information, and when buyers were ready to make a purchase, they turned to their trusted source. Today The Furrow still exists and is mailed to 1.4 million farmers in 40 countries. It can also be found online. Read More…

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Content Marketing *is* PR



by Frank Strong

Content Marketing is PR

Some of the conclusions drawn from a recent study — The Role of Content in the Consumer Decision Making Process – are missing the mark from my perspective.  

One finding from the study:

A brand new in-lab study by Nielsen, commissioned by inPowered, shows that expert content—credible, third-party articles (earned media)—is the most effective source of information in impacting consumers along all stages of the purchase process across product categories. More specifically, when measured against owned media (branded content) it showed that earned media is 80 percent more effective at the bottom-of-the-funnel or purchase consideration stage, 80 percent more effective at the middle-of-the-funnel or affinity stage, and 38 percent more effective at the top-of-the-funnel or familiarity stage.

Based on that data, the conclusion is: PR is more effective than content marketing. Read More…

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Infographic: Social Media Short Hand for the un-Social CMO



by Frank Strong

Social Media CMO

So much for the Social CMO. A recent study by IBM indicates just one-fifth of CMOs incorporate social media in digital marketing.

This suggests to me that social media is either completely useless, or it still presents and enormous and latent opportunity. My money is on the latter.

Perhaps seizing on an opportunity, Adobe which also runs CMO.com, published an infographic, we first spotted on Visual.ly titled: The CMO’s Guide to 2014 Social Media Landscape. Read More…

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9 Timeless PR Positioning Strategies



by Frank Strong

positioning strategies PR

The word “positioning” gets tossed around almost carelessly in corporate documents, and I often feel as if the word is misunderstood (that’s foreshadowing).  Positioning isn’t what we say, it’s what people think and to that end any “position” that is coveted by brands has to be plausible, or anything brands say will be misaligned.

Gartner positions vendors in its Magic Quadrant reports along four categories: Leaders, visionaries, challengers and niche players.  Positioning as a “leader” is generally a difficult proposition because every company claims to be a leaders.  If everyone is a leader, then leadership as point of differentiation has lost its luster. Read More…

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13 Statistics from an Inc. 500 Social Media Study



by Frank Strong

social-media-study-Inc500
UMASS Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research is out with new research as part of its long standing study of business and its relationship with social media. The Center has been publishing research focused on either the Inc. 500 or the Fortune 500 since 2006.

I’m partial to the Center’s research because it includes some academic rigor – that is more or less absent an agenda. The current study focuses on the Inc. 500 and is a two-step methodology of reviewing use-cases and later conducting surveys by random sampling.

Key findings from the UMASS study Read More…

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Infographic: Search Ranking Made Simple



by Frank Strong

google website rankings
Neil Patel published an infographic that describes how Google determines pagerank.  According to Google’s knowledge graph, which scrapes an explanation from Bruce Clay’s blog, page rank is, “is a link analysis algorithm used by Google to help determine the relative importance of a website. Every website is given a Google PageRank score between 0 and 10 on an exponential scale.”

Though Google’s algorithm is secret and no one knows exactly how it works, the infographic provides a simple explanation widely accepted by the SEO community. Some of the concepts include: Read More…

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Google Beats a War Path for Guest Posts; PR Needs to Listen



by Frank Strong

Google is on a War Path and PR Needs to Tune In

Google is on a war path, it’s personal, and the company is seeking to make public examples in an effort to dissuade the behavior it’s campaigning against.  Algorithmic changes like Penguin and Panda may have extended beyond SEO and into the PR lexicon, but soon the terms “manual penalty” might as well.  A manual penalty is when Google artificially depresses the visibility of a site in search because the company believes a site is gaming its algorithm.

Yes, they can do that.  And when they do, you have no choice but to yield to its demand, or forgo the search rankings.  For most organizations, whether it’s a savvy search marketing organization or not, forgoing search isn’t a viable option.

Although there are many factors that determine search rankings – and your results for any given term are likely to be different from mine – links are still the strongest indication of relevance and value of a site.  A link is a vote of confidence and generally speaking, the more quality links a site earns, the better it ranks in search.  PR pros tend to pitch a lot of content (if you’re not, you’ve got another issue) and whether they are aware of it or not, that content often earns links.

These links really matter because for most organizations, Google is likely to be the single highest source of referral traffic to a website.  This is the sort of traffic that online marketers and SEOs dedicate their time to converting – to webinar registrations, white paper downloads and ecommerce transactions. Read More…

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Survey Says on Twitter, Small Business is Likeable



by Frank Strong
Survey Says on Twitter Small Business is Likeable

Conventional social media wisdom says people don’t like brands on Twitter – which in part explains the movement for humanization. Contrast that with “personal branding” and we indeed live in strange times where brands strive to be human, and people strive to be brands.  

Whether it’s the humanity or branding, there’s something inherently likeable about small business. Clearly there’s a lot to like – according to the Small Business Administration, small business makes up more than 99% of employer firms in the U.S. and provide for nearly half of all private sector jobs.  A new survey by Twitter – Small Business Customer Insights – says small business socially likable too. Read More…

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