A blog from SoloPortfolio about content marketing.

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Modular Content

May 24, 2011

I spend a lot of time noodling about information design. I believe that too few content marketers pay attention to design as an essential, ground-floor element of their content marketing strategy.

The lesson hit home for me personally when CCO magazine launched in January and a few bloggers pointed out (thank you) that our articles were too long and too linear. Readers wanted to be able to skim for key points and to decide whether any given article was worth their time.

The CCO team gathered about two months ago and gave me marching orders: Take each feature article and break it into pieces, add sidebars and pull-quotes. Add skimming elements. Make it more reader friendly!

I have since referred to this strategy as creating modular content. Rather than having one 1,200 word-article, we will run a 700 word article with a couple of sidebars that sum up key points or supplement the article with additional information.

This strategy has a few benefits:

  • Readers can self-select more easily and decide whether the article is right for them.
  • For the distracted, time-starved readers, modular content allows for speedy skimming.
  • Sidebars allow you to invite 3rd party authorities to weigh in on a topic and lend perspective and nuance.

Our July issue of CCO magazine will truly be the first issue that embraces this new mantra. Will include some of the new layouts for that issue in the blog when it is released next month. In the meantime, my new call-to-action: make it modular!

Biggest Study To Date of B2B Content Marketing

September 15, 2010 1 Comment

Out today: Junta42 and MarketingProfs have published the most comprehensive study of content marketing in the B2B space to date. The findings will surprise you.

I was thrilled when they asked me to participate as a co-author in June. Since then, we have been pouring over the data, analyzing how marketers are adapting to their new role as content authors and publishers. First, check out usage rates of different content marketing strategies, below. Social media, excluding blogs, is being used by nearly 80% of marketers. Can’t say you’re surprised, right? Other usage rates did, however, surprise (shock) me a bit. At nearly the bottom of the list: mobile content. For all the industry swooning over mobile, it’s just not there yet in B2B. 

So we know everyone is using content marketing as a core strategy. Even so, there exists what we call a “confidence gap” among B2B marketers. Marketers may be investing in content marketing, but they are somewhat in the weeds in terms of really understanding how to use tactics effectively. Look at the chart below.  Yes, you are reading that right: 69% of B2B marketers who use social media (and we know that approx 80% do), believe the tactic is not working for them. We really can’t be sure whether they believe the tactic isn’t effective, or whether they do not know how to measure effectiveness of social media… but I find it pretty astounding that 69% are declaring themselves social media wanderlings. Other often-used tactics don’t fare much better: blogs, videos, article posting and white papers all leave at least half of users dissatisfied.  In-person events seems to be the tactic with the highest degree of confidence. If you think about it, makes a lot of sense. Good old-fashioned face time. 

This “gap” finding points to the need for a lot more education among B2B marketers about how to use content effectively and measure results. This post is just scraping the surface… I’ll blog some more about the report findings this week, but in the meantime, get yourself over to Junta42 and download your copy. And let me know: do you feel confident about your content marketing strategy? Are there particular tactics you’ll be pulling back from in 2011? Why?