Tuesday Dec 01, 2015

Content Marketing, Part 2: How To Make It Happen

“Content marketing” was the hot word during OpenWorld in October. We wanted to dive into this topic, so we reached out to our own content marketing expert in the Oracle family: Steve Olenski, Senior Content Strategist with Oracle Marketing Cloud, Forbes contributor and well-respected industry influencer. In the first part of this series, Steve explained the essence of content marketing. Today, he’s telling Maggie Schneider Huston, Senior Content Manager with Oracle Social Cloud, how to implement your content marketing strategy.

Maggie Schneider Huston: How do you create a content marketing strategy? What are the most important KPIs that a B2B company should use? 

Steve Olenski: Before you do anything, you need to answer some questions:


Why are you doing content marketing? To engage your customers and prospects? To sell widgets? Maybe. 


What is your business plan and how will you measure it? This ties directly into the KPI question. The key KPIs will absolutely vary by company. There is a fantastic infographic here which lays out the key KPIs content marketers need to be aware of: visits, unique visits, social shares, comments, conversion rate and MQLs (Marketing Qualified Leads.) But, as I said, KPIs will vary based on your individual goals so it’s very important to establish the plan and goals first. 

MSH: As a content creator, sometimes I feel like I’m juggling 10 things at once. How do you organize all of the moving parts?

SO: Lots of coffee. <laughs> Ok, that’s a personal remedy of mine. This is going to sound very cliche-ish but it really comes down to priority. What is the most important thing at that particular moment? You have to make that decision knowing full well that in the next moment it could change. It is a constant vigil, for sure when it comes to content marketing. I’ve got one eye on the present and one eye on the future. Oh, and a third eye on the past to look at our measurement and analytics. That’s why we’re fortunate on the Oracle Content Marketing team to have folks like Jeff Cohen and Chris Moody, along with myself to keep that steady vigil and have all those eyes, literally on everything. 

MSH: I’ve got limited resources. I’d love to produce white papers, infographics, blogs, and videos - but I can’t. What types of content do you find most effective? 

SO: This is perhaps the most-loaded question… ever.

MSH: <laughs> Well, it’s one that keeps coming up. People want to know what works!

SO: There is simply no right answer to this and never, ever let anyone tell you otherwise. Think about it. When’s the last time you bought a once-size-fits-all piece of clothing and loved and raved about it? Exactly. Just as the key KPIs will vary by company, so too will the types of content that will be effective. It is a matter of, here’s that word again - vigil. Keeping a constant eye on what is working and what is not. You may see one month an e-book perform very well then the next e-book bomb. So do e-books work or not? Well, obviously, you would have dig deeper into why one worked and one didn’t. You cannot make a blanket assumption or draw a blanket conclusion across any given type of content. You have to find what works, then dig and find out why it worked. Then test it again and again. 

MSH: Any tips or tricks to share? Common problems, and how to overcome them?

SO: As far as tips and tricks go… I could write a 5,000 word manifesto when it comes to tips but in the interest of time and for fear of boring everyone to tears, I would add that content marketing is, to me, all about “being there.” And what I mean by that is being there where your customers and prospects are, and then in turn delivering them content that is relevant to them - not you. A common problem I see is brands producing content that, while it may look cool and trendy, has zero relevance to their audience. In other words, they’re doing it for themselves. Another problem is one I touched on the last time I spoke with you, Maggie, which I refer to as the Not Always Selling (N.A.S.) Doctrine. Do not try and sell something via every piece of content you produce - please. I beg of you. Tell stories. Tug on heartstrings. But be genuine at all turns. 

To keep up with Steve, follow him on Twitter.  

Tuesday Aug 12, 2014

5 Things Brands Should Learn From the Rise of YouTube Celebrities

YouTube social media contentTV actors used to worry about reality show stars stealing their thunder and opportunities.  Ah what quaint days those were. Turns out the no-names doing seemingly brainless stuff as YouTube “celebrities” loomed as the larger dinosaur-killing catastrophic threat.

We present as evidence a recent survey commissioned by Variety, the traditional film/TV industry’s legendary trade publication. It showed that as far as US teens 13-18 are concerned, the faces they watch on YouTube are more important and influential to them than Sheldon, Leonard & Penny.

No, those actors aren’t hurting (just renegotiated huge new per episode deals). But much of a star’s value is in their ability to sell stuff. And that’s where YouTube celebrities are shining, ranking sky high on traits like engaging, approachable, authentic, and relatable. They even hold their own in sex appeal vs. the glitterati. Their fans love that they aren’t handled by slick PR machines or marketing operatives. There’s realness and intimacy.

It used to be that YouTubers put out content hoping to get discovered by the networks & studios. Now, that could be the worst thing that could happen to them as it risks damaging the profitable relationships they’ve built with fans. The top earner, a Swedish gamer known as PewDiePie, has 23.9 million subscribers and 3.69 billion total views, earning him up to an estimated $8.47 million per year after Google’s 45% cut. Who needs Hollywood?

So what should we as brands tasked with using content to build audiences and relationships take from this seismic shift in entertainment sources?

1. Your brand is legendary? So what? Nobody owes you a thing. The Variety article points out it’s not that teens don’t know the big TV, movie and music stars, it’s that they fail to appeal to them like YouTube stars do. You’re building your audience from scratch, and on even footing. Act like it.

2. You’ve got to be a consistent, reliable presence. If your brand doesn’t have a “show,” you’re in trouble. Your one-off attempt at a viral video or your twice a year Prezi about your white papers is a neglectful, non-serious effort that will be rewarded as such.

3. You must be real. This runs counter to everything corporate communications was built to be. “Who can be the best fraud” is no longer the game. Nobody really believed you were perfect and flawless anyway.

4. You must be approachable/accessible. Again, corporate customer service and interaction has been historically constructed for one purpose, to avoid actual contact with customers. You can’t build intimacy and hide at the same time.

5. Communities get built around great content. Following a YouTube star alone isn’t nearly as much fun as having a tribe to discuss the star and their content with. If the content strikes a chord, fan bases coalesce and spread quickly. Think less about creating fans of your brand, and more (much, much more) about creating fans of your content.

Modern marketing and the technology to optimize social distribution & promotion are falling into place. But those capabilities will go completely wasted if brands can’t stop self-obsessing long enough to care about what kind of content will make them a star with their customers.

@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: freeimages.com

Tuesday Sep 03, 2013

Content for the Masses…Fails

empty seatsI know, you want all your content to please everybody and make them all want to buy your stuff that instant.  That would be cool. But once we come back from daydream land, we should grasp that all content is not the same. All content is not made for the same purpose. And all content is not made for the same audience.

Have you ever shopped for a car and within 10 minutes of being on the lot were asked by the pushy salesperson, “Hey, what do I have to do to get you in this car today?” Maybe you’re just researching. Maybe you’d like some info or a test drive first. The salesman hit you with the wrong message at the wrong time. His content was not crafted for or aimed at the target.

Annoying, yet as brands, we’re doing this every day, sometimes multiple times a day. We’re making whatever content we can, then throwing it out there to see if anything sticks. Content should be aimed at a specific audience with specific problems, goals, emotions and motivations.

Just as there’s a sales funnel (which has actually shifted into a sales cycle or buying journey), there should be a corresponding content funnel that respects and acts on where the intended consumer of that content is in the buying journey. Do that and you’ll wind up with something you might not have at the moment…a content strategy.

Most organizations do this by developing personas. Note that “personas” is plural. There are a lot of different stages, motivations and variables in the buying cycle. Creating content customized and accurately targeted to each is a huge task…one that comes at a time when most brands are struggling just to create quality content at all.

Which is all the more reason to make sure the content you are going to resource and make will be as effective for you as possible. That means intimately knowing whom you’re talking to via data and social listening tools, learning how likely a prospect they are, predicting through analytics what questions they have, and serving up content that will move them into the next stage of the cycle where further targeted content awaits.

Remember, a significant amount of the decision-making process is already done by the time actual contact is made with the vendor. Customers at the top of the funnel are information gathering, staying in the shadows as much as they can. Their openness to your product and message is quite different here than it would be closer to the sale. Even the wording of your messaging must take into account that prospects have a different relationship with you at each stage, just as in real life.

Six Revisions has a really nice snapshot of
what the content funnel looks like at each stage.

*Awareness: the customer is becoming aware of your company, so content answers very general questions about your space or industry.
*Interest: their curiosity about you is piqued, so content answers questions about the product.
*Desire: they want your product, now content should move it from their wish list to their to-do list.
*Action: they’re doing what it takes to buy it, so content should answers purchase and service logistics.

A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” is the
biggest unscripted show in cable history and close to becoming the biggest cable show in history period. If your content can be mass appeal and that successful, knock your lights out. But for marketers, success means conversion of unaware all the way to purchase, and that takes a lot more personalization.

Photo: stock.xchng


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