“It’s one thing to pitch an eBook, but it’s a well-executed marketing initiative to exemplify the very concepts described in the eBook during the process of pitching it.”
That’s my take on a marketing campaign that Shift Communications is running to promote an eBook: Paid Earned Owned Shared: The Media Recipe for Audience Conversion.
Valuing Content Changes the Context
A short while ago I noticed a promoted tweet. It wasn’t the message (smile and dial) that captured my attention, but rather as a regular Twitter advertiser, it was the realization I was the target – and by a firm with which I’m familiar (I’ve seen some ads on Facebook too). Most of the ads I see on social are broad brush blitz campaigns by consumer gadget companies — not B2B service firms like Shift.
In clicking-through the ad to the landing page, the eBook was a topic that interests me, so I began the process of registering for the download. That’s when I noticed the option. Shift gave visitors the option to download the content for free with registration – or the option to buy the eBook for $10.00. (Click here for screen shot of the clever content marketing details).
This little act completely changes the context in which visitors view the offer. Many landing pages pitch free content in exchange for contact details. Its staple tactic for building lists and developing marketing leads – and people know it and as a result are often resistant to giving away contact information.
For example, within 24 hours of downloading the Salesforce State of Marketing report, which I read and wrote about – 5 Takeaways from the Salesforce State of Marketing – I received a phone call from the company (which I promptly ignored and sent to voicemail). Forty-eight hours later I received a second phone call and by extension another voicemail and this time, also an email.
People dislike this inevitability and generally will bounce from a landing page; another reason why gated content doesn’t go viral. However, offering the option to pay for the content in place of providing contact details, shifts this psychology: Why pay for an eBook when you can just register and get it for free?
Don’t miss these related posts:
The Advantages of Working with a Boutique PR Firm in B2B
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6 Takeaways from Paid, Earned, Owned and Shared
I took the bait (obviously), registered for the content, and was interested to see Shift gave me three options for downloading the eBook: a standard PDF file, Amazon eBooks or Apple iBooks. (Note: I also went back later and tried to purchase a copy as research for this post, but it could only be purchased for a Kindle which is a device I do not use).
The eBook is a quick and conversational read that runs about 40 pages. Here are some of the takeaways that stood out for me:
1. How the web has changed the dynamics of influence.
“A mention by a prominent blogger or social media personality can be just as impactful as a mention in the Grey Lady herself… A kid in your restaurant with a smartphone can create a multimillion dollar scandal on YouTube in minutes.”
2. Defining earned media.
“…the definition of earned media: any place that people can talk about how awesome you are that isn’t yours or that you haven’t paid for.”
3. Mapping functions to the funnel.
“We judge what something is by what it does.
– Sales produces customers and revenue.
– Marketing produces leads and content.
– Media produces audience and awareness.”
And later in reference to the Attention, Interest, Desire and Action (AIDA) model:
“A business must capture the attention of prospective customers, build interest in their products or services, incite desire to own those products or services, and get prospective customers to take action.
These four categories correspond roughly to the areas of advertising, PR, marketing, and sales. Advertising creates awareness and can drive some attention. PR creates interest by generating word of mouth and mentions in media sources. Marketing creates desire with effective messaging and motivation, and sales closes the deal by getting prospective customers to take action.”
4. Power of succinct.
“…the headline is the story. In this age of digital media that’s ever shorter, from text messages to Twitter, you’ve got to get the story into the headline alone.”
5. News by definition defies expectations.
“If the goal of earned media is to get people talking, sometimes the most unconventional approaches (as long as they’re consistent with your brand and message) will work best for you.”
It’s not “news” if everyone else is doing it. Conservatism is an essential characteristic for managing risk and controlling costs – but for marketing and PR it’s a tie-down that ensures continued obscurity.
6. Message saturation.
“Believe it or not, owned media is where most companies fall down hardest on earned media. The average company takes its earned media and puts it in the back corner of the corporate website under the news page, buried so far below the fold that only search engine robots see it. It’s put with the press releases that no one reads and is largely neglected as the company moves on to other digital marketing priorities. Nothing could be a bigger waste of money and resources!”
“Content marketers will finally embrace paid as an integral part of their owned and earned strategy. While most marketers have resisted paying to promote free content, leaders like Todd Defren, CEO of SHIFT, have demonstrated huge success using pay-per-click and social ads promoting new and well performing content to amplify results.”
* * *
While it didn’t make the prediction list for content marketing in 2015 it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that social media advertising is going to get much more competitive and much more expensive over the course of the year. The cost and competitiveness will only stand to make concepts like those Shift Communications is evangelizing in this eBook all the more important. The entire eBook is well worth a read.
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