A blog from SoloPortfolio about content marketing.
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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:
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!
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?
I received a call late last week from an editor at Consulting Magazine to discuss content marketing strategies for professional service firms. One of his questions: how often should firms–particularly small to mid-size firms–publish content in order to remain credible and visible? In the past, I may have said weekly or monthly. But I’ve changed my mind on this one after receiving a ridiculous number of awful e-newsletters of late…
You should commit to publishing content on a schedule that assures that each and every issue is whip-smart, well designed, and of clear value to your audience. If you’re not sure that you can come up with smart content on a weekly basis, then change up your editorial calendar. I would venture to guess that plenty of firms can’t even commit to high-quality content on a monthly basis. If so, move to quarterly. Here is a warning: if you fall down and publish content that is boring–or worse, unintelligent–you may not get a second chance from your readership.
The one kind-of-sometimes exception to this rule is blogging. The medium is informal by nature and there are those of us who like to use our blogs to test out ideas and engage in unstructured conversations with our colleagues and prospects. Plus, who is really going to tune-in to a quarterly blog? Use your blog to “look smart and walk fast” (as my father used to say when leading us through tough neighborhoods in NYC). Use the conversational aspect of blogging to show off your wit and wisdom in smaller bit-sized packages.
So content marketers, how often should you publish? On a schedule that assures you can deliver the brainy goods in a beautiful package each and every time.
On another note, I am guest-blogging over at Junta42’s Content Marketing Institute today. Check out my post today: 6 Ideas B2B Content Marketers Can Take from Professional Journalists.
I’m thrilled to announce we’ll be rolling out a website in June 2010. The blog has been my placeholder website since 2008… but hey, the girl is growing up. More details to follow, but here’s a sneak peak of the concept.
I’m also excited to announce that I’ve been invited to become a blogger and instructor for the new Content Marketing Institute, which is sponsored by the rock star of content marketing, Joe Pulizzi at Junta42. CMI will be launching their social media and education platform in the coming month. I’ll be blogging for CMI twice per month and providing podcast-based instruction on topics in content marketing and information design.
Two great new websites in one month. Interplanetary alignment.