2022 – Top Online Tools for Content Marketers

 

Frank Hamilton, Blogger

Content marketing is acknowledged as the most effective way to develop and promote a new brand, reaching out to the target audience. Content marketing includes several directions like blog articles, social media, mailing, etc. but each of these types has only one purpose—to help their potential clients resolve their daily issues with the help of their company products or services. 

Surely, digital marketing activities cannot be completely executed manually by marketers. That is why content marketers explore and implement various automated tools and platforms in their tasks to make the content marketing strategy work. And further, in this article, we would like to share the best online tools that will come in handy for each content marketer.

We-Connect

The online presence of your business may not be enough to reach your target audience. We-Connect is a tool worth your attention, learning effort, and investment. This web application provides the option of cold mailing via LinkedIn to the users who potentially might become clients for the brand you work with as a marketer. 

You can simply export prospects from LinkedIn or Sales Navigator search and add them to the reaching out company on We-connect with the prepared mailing content in advance. It will automatically send invitations to users with the promotion of your brand services or the required pieces of content.

Apollo

This is another tool for automated mailing your target audience via personal or work emails. This application is really great for modern digital marketing.

 Foremost, its options allow marketers to find the prospect with verified emails using a scalable library of filters. Marketers can create a couple of email marketing campaigns simultaneously for different audiences to promote their content, products, services, etc.

Apollo ensures reaching out to your target clients, instead of guessed ones.  Besides, Apollo offers convenient pricing plans for one user, a team of users, and also a custom one where you adjust the functions to your ongoing marketing needs. 

Keyword Surfer

According to custom writing service Best Writers Online, high-quality content is the content that is displayed to a relevant audience in search engines, meaning it engages visitors who can become your potential clients as a result. 

To reach this task, your content has to be filled with thematically relevant keywords, as much as possible. Keyword Surfer automatically analyzes all available resources with similar topics and provides a list of all suitable keywords you need to include in your articles, social media posts, and other types of publications. It relates not only newly made content but also the old one that needs to be updated and filled with the right number of relevant keywords. 

Grammarly

From many reviews from the writing service Writing Judge, Grammarly remains the top required tool for content marketers. No matter what type of content you create and post, this app is inevitable to fix all types of mistakes you could have made during the writing and also improve your vocabulary and the sound of the content overall.

 Even using the free version, you can edit your text and reveal the majority of errors before publishing, thus they will not influence the quality of the content and marketing activities. 

Trello

Trello is a globally known task assigning solution for businesses of different types. It provides the option of creating a separate dashboard for each company project, in our case—marketing projects.

 All marketing activities can be divided into diverse boards, e.g., content creation, email marketing, SEO activities, link building, etc. The manager or team lead of each project adds the responsible workers, creates and assigns tasks, and also tracks the process of their execution.

 It has an intuitive design, so you won’t spend much time onboarding employees to use this app. All tasks are stored within each dashboard, ensuring the keeping and accessing of the essential information in one place. 

Summing up

We tried to cover the most popular content marketing tools from different spheres to show the benefits and use they can introduce into your content marketing strategy. So there is no need to spend much time thinking if your business requires implementing any of these tools. You definitely do, but what will be your choice depends on the current demands of your brand.


Frank HamiltonAbout the Author: Frank Hamilton is a blogger and translator from Manchester. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German and English.




Facebook Algorithm Changes: What Content Marketers Need to Know

Editor’s Note: To learn more about Content Marketing, earn a certificate in content marketing from PRSA: https://bit.ly/prsacontent

Lisa Arledge Powell, President, MediaSource

When Facebook announces changes to the News Feed, communicators straighten up and listen. The most recent changes were sudden and significant, affecting the lives of social media strategists and content marketers overnight—even forcing once-flourishing publishers to shut their doors. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained the most recent News Feed tweaks, but many brands are still struggling to understand.

So what exactly does this mean for communicators? Here’s the run-down:

Friends & Family First:

Facebook kicked off 2018 by announcing they would make changes to their algorithm in an interest to better promote users’ mental health. Their studies have shown that genuine interactions between friends—not viral video content or national news—is what promotes a strong well-being. This, according to Zuckerberg himself, means, “…you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard—it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.” If your business, brand or media page wants to remain visible, your posts will need to garner meaningful engagement.

Local News > National News:

Facebook announced it would prioritize local news over national news so that users can see content that has a direct impact on them and their community. According to Alex Hardiman, Head of News Product, and Campbell Brown, Head of News Partnerships, local publishers are defined as “those whose links are clicked on by readers in a tight geographic area. If a story is from a publisher in your area, and you either follow the publisher’s Page or your friends share a story from that outlet, it might show up higher in your News Feed.”

Trusted News Sources Only:

Facebook surveyed a wide range of Facebook users across the U.S. to determine their level of trust in various news sources. The results of these surveys, which remain private, affect the overall ranking of posts on the News Feed. Pages considered trustworthy by users may see a boost in their visibility, while Pages deemed untrustworthy will likely see a drop in audience reach.

How the changes apply to your brand:

As a Page manager, you’ll likely see your post reach, referral traffic and average video watch time decrease in the short run. But the overall impact to your page’s performance will be determined by important factors such as the type of content you produce and the level of engagement it garners. Those who produce thoughtful, compelling content void of clickbait and tailored for a specific audience will survive these changes—and may even benefit to a degree.

Here are a few suggestions to make sure your content doesn’t get lost in the shuffle:

  • Know Your Audience & Understand Their Interests: Do you have a good idea of where your likes and engagements are coming from? Decode this information easily using Facebook Analytics, or whichever social tracking service you use. Once you know this, fine-tune your content for your specific audience. Once again, Facebook is focused on a user’s well-being and interests. 

  • Incorporate Multimedia Content & Try Live Video: Multimedia remains a powerful driver of engagement on the platform, so avoid executing Facebook posts without multimedia content. Add a photo, video or link to content that will spark conversation among your followers. Consider testing live video to interact with viewers and inspire that much-coveted engagement on your content. Live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos, according to Facebook. Don’t just add generic multimedia for the sake of adding it, though. Be strategic and thoughtful—the goal is to catch viewers’ eyes and spark meaningful engagement.
  • Boost Posts & Consider Geographical Audiences
: Facebook’s boosted promotions allow you to get very specific with targeting. Given the platform’s preference for local news and content, it’s a great idea to run post promotions targeted towards population subsets. Target specific cities for whom your content is relevant. This will inspire engagement from specific, localized geographic areas, register on Facebook’s algorithm and ultimately boost the visibility of those posts. Boosted posts will also increase your page’s relevance to the viewer. Make sure the next piece of content that follows the boosted post is relevant to the targeted audience from the boost; you need to maintain these engaged users’ interest.

  • Keep It Fresh
: If you need to recycle content, do it as infrequently as possible and avoid using the same messaging, or else risk having your posts demoted. Look at your page as an outside user and think about what would be the most engaging content and when that content should be posted. Too much of the same content will get boring to users – Mix it up! 


Keep It Real
: With the news that Facebook will prioritize content that drives high levels of engagement, avoid trying to goad readers into liking or clicking your content with disingenuous tactics, ie. “Like if you agree,” or “Share if this applies to you.” Facebook’s algorithm will automatically demote clickbait posts on the News Feed.

This is not the first time Facebook has tweaked its algorithm, and it likely won’t be the last. Content creators, communicators and social media teams who stay informed of the changes, understand what they mean, and adjust their strategy accordingly will still be able to thrive in this newest News Feed era.


Lisa Arledge Powell is president of MediaSource, an award-winning creative agency that specializes in content-focused public relations, content marketing and national media exposure for major brands. Connect with Lisa on Twitter: @LisaArledge


To learn more about Content Marketing, earn a certificate in content marketing from PRSA: https://bit.ly/prsacontent




The Content Marketers Secret Weapon

Scott Fedonchik Discusses the Content Marketers Secret WeaponScott FedonchikSenior Vice President of Marketing, Business Wire

There is an easy, affordable, trusted and effective tool to promote your communications that you might not be thinking about…post it as Business Wire News Release. Why? Here are a few highlights.

1) By reframing your content as a news release (and including supporting materials like a headshot, author bio, graphics, research data, a video, etc.) your piece can take on a life of its own as source material for journalists and influencers. Your content is searchable and archived, so you can become a recognized thought leader as reporters do research on your chosen topic. A recent study by Business Wire found that 53% of journalists refer to newswire content daily, so we know they are looking at our material for story ideas.

media blueprint2) Using a newswire provides a halo of credibility to your content. Business Wire, a Berkshire Hathaway Company, has been distributing industry news and information for over five decades, establishing a leadership position with journalists around the world. Placing your content within our feed, among other blue-chip organizations, industry thought leaders and brands, add to the relevance, authority, and visibility of your ideas. These factors are hard to measure but are incredibly important for content marketing success!

3) A wire release for your communications content gains broad reach to leading media points, direct posting to major news sites, search benefits from the major portals, as well as social media distribution through Business Wire’s turn-key sharing tools. We distribute directly into the editorial systems of digital, print and broadcast newsrooms, individual reporters and editors, consumers, financial and news portals, websites, news syndicators, bloggers, social media networks and more, so your amazing content will be seen!

4) You can select targeted distribution channels (by geography, industry type, trade category, demographics, language, etc.) to insure your content gets seen by the right people who can engage with it and share it with their audiences. Business Wire reaches over 160 countries in 20 languages and offers 193 industry trade verticals to reach the audiences you want to impact. From broad, global reach to micro-targeting, we have your content covered.

5) Your published piece comes with measurement reports that show the number of views, link clicks, websites that published your articles, social media engagement and a list of influencers who amplified your post. Honestly, try getting that level of reporting from a social media site or programmatic media firm. It’s not going to happen…and certainly not at the costs of working with Business Wire.

So, my guess is that these points were probably not what you were thinking when you clicked on this post. As a fellow content marketer, I hope I have opened your eyes to the “hidden gems” of the wire.

Pound for pound there is no more effective (and surprisingly affordable) tactic to add to your content marketing strategy than newswire distribution.

If you are interested in learning more, email me or click here to set up an information session. (www.services.businesswire.com/press-release-distribution)

 

 

 




7 Traits Every Great Content Marketer Must Have

josh200By Josh Ritchie, Co-Founder and CEO, Column Five

Developing and promoting great content is no easy game. It takes a lot to run a good operation—and the most important aspect is the people in that operation. Beyond their skill sets and knowledge base, good content professionals exhibit particular qualities that contribute to their success.

Whether you’re a one-person operation or a CMO in charge of a large department, work to cultivate these seven qualities in yourself and the people around you to improve your content marketing efforts.

1) Patience

Content marketing isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon without a finish line. Being comfortable with this reality is hugely important. While it’s frustrating to see tactics that used to work become less effective, or experiment with new things that fail, it’s imperative to understand that patience really is a virtue when it comes to doing content right for the long-haul.

Cultivating this mindset will help you avoid burnout when things don’t go the way you’d like. In working with large brands and tiny startups at my agency, I know there’s a learning curve for everyone. If you want to master content marketing (or anything), you need to be willing to spend time required to get good.

As we know, Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to master anything. Truthfully, I’ve been active in marketing for over 10,000 hours myself, and I still feel like there’s so much to learn—in large part because things are always changing.

Remember that no one who’s doing this work well and making a name for themselves as a leader started yesterday. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Good things take time.

2) Good Listening Skills

Good content marketing isn’t about doing what you want. It’s about serving your customers first. (If you’re an agency, this means your customers’ customers.) This is where empathy comes into play.

To create excellent content marketing, you need to get inside your customers’ minds, understand what they struggle with, and look for ways to help fix their troubles. To do that, you need to listen more than you talk. This means both listening to the challenges they face in their day to day—and listening to their feedback on your product or service, no matter how harsh it may be. This outsider perspective is the key to moving in the right direction.

And customers are not the only ones you should be listening to. Pay attention to anyone and everyone who’s doing great work. Soak up their knowledge like a sponge. As Brandon Mull says, “Smart people learn from their mistakes. But the real sharp ones learn from the mistakes of others.”

While opportunities to listen might not always easily and organically present themselves to you, regardless of your role, clients, or business model, make it your responsibility to create these opportunities. I find that emailing people to ask for feedback not only works well but is relatively pain-free—and it scales.

3) Curiosity

If you’re bored with what you’re doing, it shows in your content. The antidote? Get inspired and mix it up. Curiosity will serve you well here. (Interestingly, creativity guru and author Elizabeth Gilbert encourages people not to look for their passion in life but to follow their curiosity.)

You should always be interested in learning new things, expanding your skill set, or trying a different approach. In content marketing, an always-changing field, resting on your laurels is death.

Always assume that there are better, more interesting, and more effective things you could—and should—be doing, then go out and find them. Make curiosity an intrinsic part of your nature. I promise you will tap into some seriously awesome stuff.

4) Humility

There is little room for ego in content marketing. In fact, the more willing you are to be humbled, the more successful you’ll be. The more you experiment and fail, the more you improve—even if it feels humiliating.

Humility makes you a better team player and allows you to put your customers and brand before yourself. You become more open-minded and willing to engage with others (aka listen!), which helps both personally and professionally.

I’m a big proponent of the “strong opinions, weakly held” approach to doing things. Adopting this mentality also allows you to encourage and accept constructive feedback—and sometimes even help from others when needed. In the long run, this only helps.

5) Confidence

While you should be humble, it’s also important to build your confidence in your content marketing skills.

Confidence is the key to not letting an epic failure eat you alive—and to getting back up and trying again. Rewards don’t come to people who give up before they even try; they come to those who are not willing to let their failures define who they are. As Randy Nelson of Pixar says, “The core skill of innovators is error recovery, not failure avoidance.” The ability to recover, he says, not some innate ability, is the mark of a creative genius.

Building confidence in yourself and your team requires boldness and courage. The good news is the quicker you bounce back from obstacles, the more your confidence grows. And the more confident you are, the more likely you are to pitch that crazy-but-brilliant idea that just might bring your team to the next level.

6) Discipline

Maintaining quality and consistency are vital to a successful content marketing operation, but it takes a lot of diligence to maintain. This is why discipline is the key to keeping the engine running.

Creating and promoting content can sometimes be like going to the gym: four out of five of the times I don’t want to be there, but I power through my workout and 100 percent of the time I’m glad I did.

Even when it gets hard, frustrating, or confusing, know that the content still needs to be created.

Now this doesn’t mean you should focus on quantity over quality simply to maintain discipline. It means you should work to strategize and follow through.

Remember: The only way to track your content’s success (and learn what to do better next time) is to have something to measure it against.

7) Sincerity

You’ve heard about the importance of authenticity a couple million times by now. That said, there are some common traps that brands fall into in this quest. I’d advise you against the following:

Unnecessary trend-jacking: Do you really care what your medical provider thinks about Kanye West on Twitter? No. If it’s a natural fit, you can consider it. But far too often this just ends up backfiring.

Copying other brands: So Apple came out with a great new campaign? Let them have it and come up with something of your own. Copying other brand’s voices or tactics looks hacky at best and sleazy at worst.

If you approach content marketing with an honest and sincere desire to do good and provide value to your readers first and foremost, you won’t go wrong. Don’t try to be authentic; just be.

Always Check Yourself

When working with customers or fellow content marketers, you will find many opportunities to demonstrate these qualities or practice cultivating them. If you find some more difficult than others, that’s OK. That means you’re aware—and that’s a great first step.

 

About the Author: Josh Ritchie is a Column Five co-founder and the co-author of “Infographics: The Power of Visual Storytelling.” He also teaches a course on Visualization of Information at Columbia University. 

 




Content Hub Optimized for Content Marketers: Contently Live

contently200A Commpro News Update

Content marketing tech company Contently launched Contently Live, a customizable content hub specifically for marketers. The site is designed to avoid the hassle of having to build a website or microsite, by driving business results itself – like lead generation, audience attention, and revenue.

“Simply publishing content isn’t enough these days—marketers need to be able to show results,” said Shane Snow, Contently’s co-founder and chief creative officer. “Everything we’ve learned from our own content marketing optimization is built into Contently Live, so users can focus their attention on telling their brand’s story. This turnkey content hub will turn great content into leads.”

In beta tests, marketers who made the switch reported a 45 percent increase in attention time, and  saw the conversion rate on e-books increase by an average of 34 percent. A half-dozen major brands are set to launch content hubs on Contently Live by year’s end.

“Other systems are fine for publishing content, but it’s a much more involved process for a marketer, especially if you want to track your lead funnel and optimize for conversions,” said Contently VP of Product Paul Fredrich. “Contently Live is built for the marketer who wants to have everything set up and optimized for lead generation.”

Contently Live was designed with several guiding metrics in mind: attention time, pageviews, social shares, SEO, email capture, lead generation, and conversions. It is integrated to work with the rest of Contently’s technology, allowing users to plan, create, publish, amplify, and analyze content on one platform.

Increases site traffic and visitor engagement through:

  • Access to Contently’s network of freelance content creators and workflow tools to increase the quality of content
  • Data-driven recommendations within the platform to create better-performing content
  • Custom tagging and infinite scroll for easy and flexible content organization, discovery, and SEO

Optimizes lead generation and capture through:

  • Custom call-to-action pop-ups and slide-ups that integrate with marketing automation, CRM, and email marketing platforms
  • Built-in Document Analytics for embedding and optimizing lead forms in downloadable content like white papers and e-books
  • Smart ad units that recommend relevant content to visitors
  • Analytics that track lead captures and conversions back to the content that works



Video Creation and Strategy for Today’s Modern Content Marketer (Free Webinar)

Webinar_640x480-June22 (1)

Webinar Overview

Please join us for our upcoming webinar on June 22 at 1PM ET when we discuss video creation, execution and implementation tips to help you develop valuable assets that you can successfully use in your content marketing program.

Video is an absolute requirement for today’s audiences. When developing your content marketing strategy, compelling, well-crafted video content can act as the centerpiece of your campaign. It drives action, elicits emotion and delivers results.  Join PR Newswire and MultiVu we share insider tips on video creation and how to successfully weave it into a effective content program.

Video Creation for Today’s Modern Content Marketer discusses:

  • Developing videos that will drive engagement with your audience.
  • Helpful tips to determine the right video project for your campaign.
  • How to make video creation part of your content portfolio.
  • Tactics to successfully execute it as part of a larger content strategy.

Register Now




Script Writing 101 for Content Marketers

Script Writing 101 for Content Marketers

A blank page is to a script writer what a blank canvas is to an artist.

Each key stroke might compare to a brush stroke. Like a painter who pulls from his imagination, you might draft a script drawn from what you already have in mind before you ever head out into the field to shoot and grab the elements.

The downside to that approach is you run the risk of tunnel vision – keeping your eyes peeled for only those “scripted scenes” and overlooking more natural, fun moments you never could have anticipated.

It’s these moments in video marketing that can transform a data- or information-heavy message into compelling, easy-to-understand, and profitable content, as seen in our Intermedia-MultiVu Creative Services case study.

To get there, though, you need to tell your brand story in a creative way. Start with these five steps to write a script that impresses viewers and converts leads.

Organize Your Script’s Elements 

Generally, a simple video script is divided into two columns: the left side for video, the right side for audio.

On the left side, you also create notes for the editor. This will include shot selection, text that should appear on screen, and special effect instructions or transitions.

The right side is where your script appears. It includes everything that your voice-over talent will eventually record into a microphone.

The more detailed and precise your script, the better for everyone involved.

Identify a Likable Character and Open with a Good Lead

Give your audience someone with whom they might identify. The character should be likable. Let your imagination run wild here; your character doesn’t have to be a person.

In a world where viewers can skip your video after the first five seconds, you want to make sure you snag their attention. Talk to your shooter (or if you shot it yourself, think back).

What was the most visually appealing shot the crew gathered? What about sound? Did one of your interviews provide a soundbite so profound it made the hair on the back of your neck stand on end? Use it!

E-CO-1.11.3B_Intermedia-Creative-Services-Case-Study

Continue reading here on BEYOND PR.

 




10 Habits Every Content Marketer Needs to Break in 2016

10 Un-Resolutions for your content marketing

In both our professional and personal lives, the new year offers a fresh start, a time to take stock and identify opportunities for improvement.

Of course, that also means it’s time for the inescapable tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. It’s time to promise to exercise more, put down our phones more, and focus more on our families.

Although I know that all of these are important resolutions to make, I find the urge to do more and more and more absolutely paralyzing.

That’s why I’ve decided 2016 is the year I’m not making resolutions of things I need to start doing.

Instead, I’m making “un-resolutions” — promises to eliminate habits that hold me back.

If you want to join me in this, I’ve compiled the following list of 10 behaviors content marketers should resolve to stop in 2016. For good measure, I’ve also included resources that will help you with the un-resolution of your choice.

1. STOP serving only your brand.

I know: Every piece of brand content — whether it’s rooted in PR, advertising, or content marketing — is created to ultimately benefit the brand. However, the content that goes viral or – even better – has long-term success earns those triumphs because it isn’t self-serving.

That means thinking about your audience first and planning content that answers their needs. That also means providing content that educates, entertains, or both.

It may be a hard truth to swallow (and even harder to sell to company leaders who are used to the old way); however, it’s what today’s customers value.

Read The Buyer 2.0 Content Strategy Checklist to get started with this un-resolution.

2. STOP marketing without a plan.

Although it’s important to quickly make adjustments when needed, your overall marketing approach needs to be proactive, not reactive.

Today’s content marketers don’t have the luxury of flying by the seat of their pants. If you’ve been operating without a content plan, stop.

Document your content strategy and how your marketing channels fit within it. Then create an editorial calendar that will keep those channels on track throughout the year ahead.

Read The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your 2016 Editorial Calendar to get started with this un-resolution.

3. STOP guessing who your audience is.

At one time or another, we all fall into the trap of viewing our audiences in oversimplified terms. For instance, there are many different subsets of “consumers,” “B2B decision makers,” and “the media” you need to consider when honing your content creation and promotion.

Take the time to revisit your brand’s buyer personas and remove the guesswork from your marketing.

Read 9 Audience Segments to Target for Content Marketing Success to get started with this un-resolution.

4. STOP ignoring data.

Marketing reports are much more than a pretty thing to show off to the C-Suite.

Deciphering this data is essential to making smart decisions. Analytics can help you optimize individual content pieces and overall communications programs, fine-tune budgets, and increase revenue. Make sure your 2016 strategy includes regular analysis of your marketing’s output, outtakes, and outcomes.

Read Attribution Modeling’s Pivotal Role in Your Marketing Mix to get started with this un-resolution.

5. STOP boring your audience.

You can’t risk producing “so-so” content. That’s the type of content flooding your audience’s inboxes and newsfeeds each day. Rise above the din by only producing content that excites.

If you have to pick between content quantity or quality, pick quality.

Get visual and interactive, diversify the voices contributing to your content, tell stories. Offer variety not just in narrative, but also format. Turn expectations on their heads.

Read 77 Types of Content to Feed Your Audience to get started with this un-resolution.

s & Issues: Keys to Monitoring Traditional & Social Media to get started with this un-resolution.

Continue reading here on BEYOND PR.

 

 

 

 




Tech Marketers Need Strong Focus on Lead Nurturing in Content Marketing Strategies

CommPRO News 224x180CommPro.biz Editorial Staff

IDG Enterprise — the leading enterprise technology media company, comprising CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, ITworld and Network World — explores the role of content consumption in the technology purchase process in the 2017 Customer Engagement research. Digital transformation is putting more emphasis on technology driving the business forward. In turn, IT decision-makers (ITDMs) are seeking more relevant information resources to meet their business needs. On average, ITDMs download seven assets during the purchase process, outlining the need for tech marketers to spend as much attention on lead nurturing content focused further down the sales funnel, as they do content for lead generation.

Building Relationships through Content

Over the past six months, 83% of ITDMs have registered to receive tech-related content. The leading reason for downloading content is a need for information to help make informed buying decisions. However, the type of content needed varies throughout the tech purchase process (view image), from tech news as they determine the business need, to product testing and reviews as they recommend and select vendors. It is vital that tech marketers consider the content types ITDMs need to make a purchase decision, as 85% of ITDMs are more likely to consider a vendor that educates them throughout the purchase process (Click to tweet). Once content is created, distribution is just as important, since 79% of ITDMs get a negative impression of a tech vendor if they cannot find content during the research process.

“Despite all of this content being created, 79% of tech decision-makers find it challenging to locate high-quality content on B2B tech products and services,” Brian Glynn, chief revenue officer, IDG Enterprise. “This opportunity to stand out through quality content can help position tech vendors as a resource, in turn leading to new business.”

Marketing and Sales Alignment

As ITDMs research solutions, they are aware of the experience derived from the multiple touchpoints vendors establish, in fact 74% of ITDMs notice and appreciate a consistent omni-channel experience. Half of ITDMs go even further, saying that quality design and easy website navigation can increase their trust in information read online.

A positive omni-channel experience needs to extend to sales follow-up. Understanding how to educate the sales team, and what tools they need, is a key way tech marketers can increase engagement. Almost all (98%) ITDMs have responded to vendor outreach. Knowledge sharing plays a key role in why ITDMs respond, whether it was sharing valuable content (56%), showing an understanding about their business or challenges (53%), showing respect for their time (51%), demonstrating honesty and transparency (51%), and reaching out at the right time (50%).

Most of the communications between ITDMs and vendor sales people are email or online based (60%), compared to on the phone (22%) or in-person (18%). But, no matter the form of communication, 76% of ITDMs say their likelihood of purchase is impacted by the sales person contacting them within their desired time frame. Moving the conversation from exploration to a sale, there are many factors that play into making the short list, but the leaders are cost and terms (78%), quality and reliability (74%), and features and functionality (69%). Just under half (45%), mentioned having a previous working relationship gives a leg up, offering an opportunity for new solution providers.

Beyond Text Based Content

Video and events continue to play an important and unique role in ITDMs education process, as these media allow for complex topics to be explained more easily and encourages conversation. ITDMs are responsive to video, and 95% watch tech-related videos. The three platforms with the greatest tech videos views are vendor websites (71%), YouTube/video channels (65%), and tech content sites (64%). ITDMs looking to transform their businesses want to connect with vendors; over the past year 83% of ITDMs attended events where they had the opportunity to directly interact with vendors. Events provide a unique platform for conversations and learning, and ITDM attendees participate to try new products, meet new vendors, ask questions of current vendors, meet with industry experts, and connect with peers at their level. Whether tech marketers incorporate video, events, or both, into their content marketing plans, product demos should be a consideration for either format. The majority of ITDMs (98%) have found value in product demos, with a particular interest in limited time, full function trials (65%), video demonstrations of a product (58%), and in-person demonstrations of how the product works (56%).

“Tech leaders and tech vendors need to have a symbiotic relationship, especially when businesses are relying more on technology to thrive and advance,” said Glynn, continued. “Tech marketers can reinforce their value in this partnership through the creation and distribution of informative and unbiased content. When tech decision-makers find content valuable, they take proactive steps to further educate themselves — whether that be visiting the vendors’ site, reading additional articles and reviews on tech content sites, or contacting the vendor for a product demo.”




How Marketers Can Curb Metrics Cravings in the Post-Cookie World

Andy Hasselwander, Chief Analytics Officer at MarketBridge

Measurement and optimization remain critical imperatives for marketers. When hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to acquire customers, CFOs take notice and want to know how various aspects of the marketing mix are working—or not working. The questions of ROI, cost per acquisition, marginal cost per acquisition and overall mix optimization are posed daily to CMOs. Unfortunately, while marketing may be the most scrutinized cost center, it is also one of the messiest when it comes to data. 

Even though it has never reached full maturity, multi-touch attribution (MTA) was made possible by digital marketing, specifically cookies. In the early days of the internet, browsing privacy was an afterthought—people were more worried about credit card numbers getting stolen than they were about brands tracking their behavior. 

Then came third-party cookies and pixels, which completely changed the game. Third-party cookies can be read across networks and domains, making it possible to “follow a customer” around the internet.  They are particularly appealing to marketers as they can track consumer activity across broader stretches of the internet, not just their own sites.

Post-Cookie Measurement Gloom

Using third-party cookies for measurement is getting harder and harder, and it’s a good bet that within a year, it’ll be impossible. Stories of data breaches at large-scale companies like Yahoo and Facebook, along with general news-spurred anxiety about foreign data interference have led to an increase in consumer concerns over data privacy. 

Furthermore, in a bid for consumer trust, Google announced in 2020 that it would be phasing out third-party cookies on the Chrome browser. With Chrome’s cookies officially set to crumble by 2023, more and more tech companies like Apple (on both Safari and in-app across devices) are joining the trend towards greater consumer privacy and more data silo-ing.

This decline in consumer information availability has caused uncertainty among marketers. Coupled with other budgetary and data management problems, few marketers feel prepared for the post-cookie world when it comes to measurement. Luckily, there are a few measurement options that are a healthy alternative to cookies.

Beyond Discrete Multi-Touch Attribution

Discrete, user-level MTA is probably dead—but this doesn’t mean that precise marketing measurement is impossible. In fact, discrete MTA always had serious flaws, most importantly its inability to measurement brand-focused, upper-funnel investment, and its digital bias. Media mix modeling (MMM) has slowly chugged along as the measurement and optimization framework of choice for upper-funnel and video-focused marketers—and with good reason. However, media mix modeling is still too high-level to really get to reliable cost per acquisition metrics by investment channel. Something more is needed, even without third-party cookies.

Cohort Analysis

Cohort analysis means replacing individually identifiable data with aggregated groupings for analysis or targeting. These aggregations of individual records protect individual privacy while still allowing targeting and tracking. 

Cohorts are very useful to estimate attribution. Cohorts can be created for very specific levels of the business—getting down to very specific audience cells of, say, 10 leads each. This has the potential to get around privacy concerns. It remains to be seen how cooperative ad networks are prepared when it comes to providing cohort data, but marketing analysts should keep their pulse on this trend.

Shift to First-Party Data / Customer Data Platform

Another approach to solving the measurement problem is to bring as much prospect data as possible in-house. By shifting to a syndicated or partially owned system to track first-party data and develop consumer identity graphs, companies can track customers in more private ways. 

This doesn’t solve the problem of tracking consumers everywhere, but it can make the bottom of the funnel less opaque. In many ways, CRM systems are first-party data systems. While they were originally designed only to work with existing customers, companies are realizing that a unified identity graph for customers and prospects that leverages first-party data is a competitive advantage. 

Aggregated Analysis

Aggregated MTA combines econometric techniques with aggregated, channel-level data to get to a more holistic picture of attribution. While it doesn’t provide the magical answer of “what drove this specific lead to come to my website,” it can still be very specific. Aggregated MTA uses the same statistical technique used in MMM, econometric time series analysis, but models many different “last touch” channels as mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive dependent variables.

What results is a “model of models”—a network path of all of the different ways that a customer can be influenced by, and find, a brand. While aggregated multi-touch attribution can’t tell a marketer how one specific customer got to the purchase point, it can provide serious insight into each channel true contribution, both to its “own” last touch channel, and to other channels.

The Perfect Recipe

Marketers should embrace privacy push-back from consumers. The movement towards digital attribution, while short-lived, showed marketers and executives what should be possible when it came to marketing measurement. Adopting cohort thinking, first-party customer data centricity, and aggregated econometric multi-touch attribution have the potential to give marketers a stable, privacy-compliant foundation to measure across multiple channels.


About the Author: As Chief Analytics Officer, Andy leads the marketing data and analytics functions at MarketBridge, joining the firm (for the second time) in 2018. Andy brings 20+ years of marketing strategy, data science and software development experience to the firm.

 




Lessons That Sports Marketers, And Everyone, Should Have Learned From The 2021 Super Bowl As We Approach The 2022 Game On February 13. (And Important Betting Advice At This Article’s Conclusion)

Arthur Solomon

The 2021 Super Bowl once again proved four things that are already known, even though sports marketers, their advertising and PR firms, the networks and the National Football League don’t want to admit – at least publicly: 

  • The game, as are all mega sporting events, are magnets for negative publicity, and
  • The efficacy of the multi-million dollars of creating and promoting a TV commercial and buying broadcast time for it might result in zilch, and
  •  Marketing experts say its impossible to determine if it was money well spent, and
  • People associated with the Super Bowl (and all mega sporting events) live in a fantasy word.

But last year, the fantasy world the NFL attempts to create around the Super Bowl didn’t materialize but the negative publicity remained a reality. 

The weeks leading up to the Super Bowl usually are filled with news reports about the negative health affects on players who have suffered serious injuries from playing the game. Last year, because so much coverage was devoted to how sports entities, including the Super Bowl organizers, would react to the Covid-19 pandemic, there were fewer stories detailing the post-football health problems of individual players.

Also, in pre-Covid-19 days, news coverage for the days before a Super Bowl would be devoted to stories about the teams, its players, coaches, the TV commercials, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s statements and football pundit’s pre-game analysis.  

Not so last year, or at least not nearly as much.

For days leading up to the Super Bowl, health officials warned of the dangers of Super Bowl parties being Covid-19 spreaders.

And in its SportsSaturday section on February 6, the New York Times lead story was a full page article detailing how the Seattle Seahawks, a team that did not qualify for the Super Bowl, was the only one of the 32 NFL teams to complete the season virus free.

The same day in its main news section, the Times also featured a full page article about the Super Bowl. But the story wasn’t about the game. It was headlined, “Tampa’s test: Keep Big Game From Turning Into the Covid Bowl.”

But that didn’t mean a complete absence of coverage about the dangers of playing football. A few: 

The prime example of negative publicity occurred on February 3, a few days prior to the February 7 Super Bowl, when ABC-TV on its Good Morning America, World News Tonight, Nightline and on its ABC daily news podcast reported that two former Black players accused the league of discriminating against them because they are Black when requesting financial assistance because of medical problems developed from playing football. 

On January 13, Yahoo!Sports ran a story titled,The NFL and Nickelodeon made football kid-friendly. In light of concussions, is that wise?” The story quoted an NFL announcer comparing a hard hit to the head similar to a youngster scraping a knee at recess and getting up and continuing to play, which got Dr. Kathleen Bashynski, an assistant professor of public health at Muhlenberg College, to tweet, “It’s 2021. How are announcers still describing potential brain injury symptoms in this way?! Getting up slowly after hitting your head is not just like scraping your knee at recess. What a message to send to child viewers. Utterly irresponsible.” “A spokesperson from the NFL referred Yahoo to its Player Health & Safety fact sheet outlining its concussion protocol, including a five-step process for returning to the field.  (It did not include instructions how to treat a scraped knee.)

Chris Nowinski, Ph.D., a neuroscientist,  a former Harvard all Ivy League defensive tackle, professional World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler, co-founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, and co-founder of the Boston University CTE Center, tweeted about the announcer comparing a hit to the head to scraping a knee, “NFL Nickelodeon broadcast was worse than I expected. Announcer, after Taysom Hill hit his head: “[He is] getting up a little slowly. It’s like scraping your knee at recess. You get banged up; you get back up, and you go out there and play another down. That’ll get kids killed.” 

The Athletic also ran an article on the Nickelodeon broadcast on January 11, titled, ‘Modern-day Joe Camel’: Did Nickelodeon broadcast gloss over NFL’s violence?’

One sure bet: You won’t see the above stories on the official NFL website or in their press releases.

A publicity victim of Covid-19, was the Super Bowl tradition that sport marketers and their PR arms always took for granted as a vehicle for obtaining plugs for products. It was Radio Row, where stations from around the country lined up and athletes and celebrities representing various sponsors were interviewed in exchange for a product plug. In normal times about 100 stations set up shop for the pre-game interviews. Last year less than 40 showed up.

As usual, whether the cost of a Super Bowl commercial is worth the expense depends on who a sponsor listens to: 

The CMO Today column in the February 19, 2021, Wall Street Journal contained “maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t” help examples. 

It reported that one marketing professor said that there is evidence that Super Bowl ads can generate business. But another study, from a graduate school of business, concluded that when two major brands advertise similar products during the game, any marketing advantage might be lost.

As has been said many times by marketing specialists, it’s impossible to say which ad was most successful because of the many ways they are measured, providing each marketer to claim that their ad was the most effective.

Sports marketers who advertised on the 2021 Super Bowl, despite what they might say publicly, had to be disappointed.  TV ratings between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who won the game, and the Kansas City Chiefs were the lowest since 2007, with about 96.4 million viewers, a 5.5% drop from the 102 million from the previous year. 

Merriam-Webster dictionary describes “la la land’ as a euphoric, dreamlike mental state detached from the harsher realities of life. And that definition applies to individuals to are associated with sports events as well as fanatics.

A prime example of an individual living in “la la land” was Sean McManus’s quote about last year’s Super Bowl two days prior to the  game  in the February 5 New York Times. McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, which televised the game, said, “I think America needs this Super Bowl. I think it’s an opportunity for the country to come together. I think it’s going to be uplifting. I think it’s going to be unifying. And I think it’s coming at the right time. He made this statement during a pandemic that was killing thousands of Americans each week, with a Senate presidential impeachment trial a day away and with the country at loggerheads about political issues unseen since the Civil War. Obviously, as the dip in TV ratings showed, America didn’t agree with him.

Who ever at the NFL office thought of having a video featuring Vince Lombardi as part of the Super Bowl telecast also lives in “la la land.” The Vince Lombardi Trophy is awarded each year to the winning team of the Super Bowl.  But the former coach has been dead since 1970 and I wonder how many of today’s fans were moved by a Lombardi video. One thing I’m willing to bet the farm on is that the players in the NFL aren’t moved by a tribute to Lombardi, even if they know of his accomplishments, which is doubtful. They’re more interested in racial equality, health issues and being able to survive in the NFL for more than three years, the average career span of a player, than football history.

The media coverage of the 2021 Super Bowl also revealed another break from previous years. Perhaps because of the Covid-19 situation, stories about players’ brains being damaged from concussions, which were usually bunched in the lead-up to the game, were spread throughout the year.

Seemingly, the same pattern is being followed prior to the 2022 contest between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals on February 13. Stories are being reported as they occur. The New York Times, in its February 19, 2021, edition reported about the family of Vincent Jackson, a three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, who was found dead in a Florida hotel room donating his brain to Boston University researchers to determine if he had chromic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.), the disease believed to lead to degenerative brain disease because of hits to the head.

On March 10, the New York Times reported on the on-going dispute about Black players claiming that they were discriminated against because the league used different methods from white players when evaluating dementia-related payments. A follow-up story appeared on March 18.

One constant regarding the NFL that is with us throughout the year is the dangers of playing football.   But a new medical study said the dangerous health aspects might now also include spectators at the games, who have been infected with Covid-19.

According to a New York Times story on April 7, research submitted to the scientific journal The Lancet said that “there was a link between the games that had large numbers of fans in the stands and an increase in the number of infections in locales near the stadiums.” The report was again referenced in an April 29 Times article. Of course, as they did for many years when the league denied an existence between concussions and brain damage the NFL debunked the study.

But on December 14, an article in the Times reverted to the dangers of playing football. It reported that  “The posthumous brain examination of Phillip Adams, a 32-year-old retired journeyman N.F.L. player who shot and killed six people before dying by suicide in April, revealed that he had an “unusually severe” form of C.T.E., a degenerative brain disease found in athletes and others with a history of repeated hits to the head.”

The article by Jonathan Abrams said “Dr. Ann McKee, director of the C.T.E. Center at Boston University, said an examination of Adams’s brain showed significantly dense lesions in both frontal lobes, an abnormally severe diagnosis for a person in his 30s that most nearly resembled that of Aaron Hernandez, a former New England Patriots tight end who was 27 years old when he died by suicide after being convicted of a 2013 murder.”

And on December 16, an article by Ken Belson in the Times referred to the death of Vincent Jackson, who “had a growing family” and” flush bank account from his sterling 12-year N.F.L. playing career.”

“Doctors at the C.T.E. Center at Boston University have determined that Jackson had a “mild” form of the disease, which is associated with repeated hits to the head,” said the article. “C.T.E. has an array of symptoms, including memory loss, trouble managing daily chores and mood swings, which Jackson’s wife, Lindsey, said he exhibited with growing frequency in and after the 2016 N.F.L. season, his final one.”

Also on December 16, Ben Shpigel of the Times reported that chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., has been found in the brains of more than 315 former N.F.L. players. “The group includes 24 players who died in their 20s and 30s, according to Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist and the director of the C.T.E. Center at Boston University,” said the story.

An Op-Ed in the January 30 Times by Jay Caspian Kang, a former editor at the sports website Grantland, said that “Genuine alarm about brain trauma has been replaced by a type of theater,” where wobbly players are escorted to the blue medical tent “with the implicit understanding that the player will probably be back in a week or two.” “The league has talked about head injuries for decades…but there has been nothing that would qualify as drastic action,” wrote Kang.

The many players who have lost their lives or had life-altering injuries from playing the game will always be a stain on the NFL despite how hard its tries to downplay the violent nature of football.  A case in point was the 2021 pre-game telecast leading up to the actual game. It seemed more like a sermon on brotherhood than a football game. Honoring Covid-19 heroes and urging Americans to heal their political divides, worthy as they are, seemed more like a PR attempt of an entity to erase its bad conduct rap sheet and recast itself as a good corporate citizen. 

 But it will take more than several minutes of a telecast for the NFL to erase the stain on its heritage ingrained by its decades long denial of  concussions causing brain injuries and its current forgiving of players with multiple serious legal problems as long as they could still play the game, an example of which was the glorification of Antonio Brown’s play in last year’s game by CBS broadcasters Jim Nance and Tony Romo, without mentioning the player’s considerable anti-social legal problems.

A must-read story after last year’s game by Ken Belson in the February 8 New York Times detailed much better than I can the NFL’s attempt to camouflage its sordid history.

Headlined ‘At the Super Bowl, the N.F.L.’s Social Message Is Muddled.’ The few words from it below do not do it justice.

In part. wrote Belson, “The N.F.L. espoused racial unity and praised health care workers. But its inaction on racial diversity, its stereotypic imagery and its decision to host a potential superspreader event said something different.”

When it comes to topics like race, health and safety, the league’s certainty dissolves into a series of mixed messages, read the article.

“For all the N.F.L.’s feel-good words and gestures to this moment in American history at the Super Bowl, and its attempts to use football to try to bring the nation together, the league’s carefully crafted message risked being muddled by its actions,” wrote Belson.

Even though Belson’s article was written after the 2021 Super Bowl, it might have been written on February 1, 2022 because on the same day that quarterback Tom Brady announced his retirement the league was sued by Brian Flores, who last month was fired as coach of the Miami Dolphins. Flores “sued the NFL. and its 32 teams alleging that they have discriminated against him and other Black coaches in their hiring,” according to published reports.  

News articles leading up to the 2022 Super Bowl provided a valuable lessons to PR pros: Never back yourself into a situation that might come back to bite you. A story in the December 16 New York Times was headlined “N.F.L. Embraces Gambling and a Las Vegas Super Bowl. It wasn’t to many years ago, the article by Ken Belson reported, “The announcement, which the league made at its quarterly owners meeting Wednesday, would have produced scrutiny and surprise just a few years ago because of the N.F.L.’s long-held opposition to betting on games, and the many rules which prohibited players and league personnel from being associated with casinos. But in the last four years, the N.F.L.’s icy approach to the city has quickly melted.” 

In the January 31 edition, sports columnist Kurt Streeter chronicled how addictive betting on sports can be and how the N.F.L. sports leagues and media companies “walk in step with the casinos, all the way to the bank with multi-million dollar partnerships.” And on February 4, economic columnist Peter Coy pointed out “that gambling is especially pernicious. and it’s the only non-substance-related addiction recognized in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published in 2013 and compared gambling ads during the Super Bowl to “like putting trays of loose cigarettes on every coffee table in America and telling ex-smokers, well, you don’t have to smoke if you don’t want to.’ (The leagues that permit alcoholic and gambling ads on its telecasts have tag lines that say “Drink” or “Bet” Responsibly. The leagues obviously don’t take that advice seriously, but you should.)

Over the years, because of the violent nature of the game, the Super Bowl has been a magnet for attracting negative stories. Originally all the stories were about the adverse health affects on being concussed. Then the stories branched out into racism in the league, how abusive individuals can get after losing a wager and taking it out on their wives at home or spectators leaving a stadium. Then two nurses reported how a person’s health was affected by eating all the junk food at Super Bowl parties and this year exposed the dangers to TV audiences because of the league’s tie-in with gambling businesses. Also on January 31, another new element was written about in the Times: It told how producers of the half-time shows misled no-pay volunteer dancers regarding what they would have to do. 

So what TV viewers watching the over-hyped game on February 13, and who sit through the approximately 12 minutes of actual football action, interrupted by about an hour of commercials costing as much as $6-million for 30 seconds – the remaining time consists of broadcaster’s opening remarks before the kick-off, team huddles and time outs, players being tended to after they are injured, the half-time show, and the pre-game and after game ceremonies –should remember is that the Lombardi Trophy awarded to the team that wins is not the one most coveted by NFL players and their teams. Most coveted are the unofficial “get out of jail” trophies that the league has handed out to countless players, coaches and team executives over the years.

Perhaps when new word definitions are added to dictionaries in the future, “Controversy and hypocrisy “will be described as “a fundamental element of the National Football League.”

I’m not a person who normally tells people what to do with their money. But here’s a bit of advice: If you plan on betting on the Super Bowl, do not place your bets until shortly before kick-off time. Covid-19 and its variants, and not the coaches and players, might dictate the winner.


The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and was on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com

 




How to Create Effective and Simple Content Marketing Strategies

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Frank Hamilton, Blogger

By this point, every business owner and marketer knows about the importance of having a content marketing strategy. However, it’s worth stressing that your strategy needs to be effective and successful – otherwise, there’s no point in it.

But if you are a beginner or if you don’t have a lot of time, you might not be able to create a detailed, advanced content marketing strategy. Luckily, you can still create a simple but effective one. Hence, here’s everything you should know about how to create effective and simple content marketing strategies.

Why Should You Update Your Strategy Regularly?

Changing or updating your content marketing strategy may seem counterintuitive at first, but there is a reason for it. Your current strategy may not work as well as you would like it to. On the other hand, your strategy may become outdated and ineffective. In both cases, you would have to change or update your strategy. Doing this regularly will further improve the performance of your content marketing campaigns.

#1 Do Your Research

Without a doubt, the very first thing you should do is research. If you don’t know your audience, competitors, and market, you can’t create an effective content marketing strategy. Start with your target audience and make sure to segment it. Then, look at what your competitors are doing with the content they create. Lastly, look at the overall situation in your niche (e.g. the popularity of your products, recent trends in the industry, and so on).

#2 Establish Goals and KPIs

Once you have completed your research, you will need to establish goals for your strategy and KPIs for your content. The goals you set will determine which types of content you will be focusing on, which marketing channels you will prioritize, and so on. Likewise, your KPIs will help you analyze the performance of your content to see how successful your content marketing efforts are. With the help of your goals and KPIs, you can better understand how effective your strategy is and which aspects need to be improved.

#3 Choose Marketing Channels

As mentioned above, your goals will determine which marketing channels you prioritize. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t choose a wide variety of these channels. Saoirse Coleman, an expert from the essay writing service ratings site, explains it this way, “It’s a good idea to work with different types of content marketing, including email marketing, social media marketing, guest blogging, etc. This will expand your content marketing strategy and will help you reach your audience through a variety of channels.”

#4 Set Content Requirements

Content requirements or guidelines are fundamental for any successful content marketing strategy. A clear set of guidelines for your content allows you to be consistent with your content quality, format, themes, and so on. It’s necessary to set guidelines for every type of content you work with (e.g. articles, photos, pie charts, podcasts, etc.) Keep in mind your branding and integrate it into the guidelines to create a particular brand image for your business.

#5 Create A Posting Schedule

Just like content guidelines, a posting schedule is meant to help you with consistency. However, the importance of a posting schedule goes further than that. Olly Dodd, an expert from the custom writing ratings site, puts it this way, “When you determine the best hours for posting, your schedule helps you publish content consistently and during the right time. At the same time, a posting schedule allows you to align the content you post on different channels.”

#6 Distribute Resources

Now that most of your preparation is complete, you need to distribute the resources you possess. Of course, you probably already had a good idea of your budget and other resources when you started creating your strategy. But now that you know what exactly you will be doing (content formats, posting schedule, etc.), you need to consider your resources again and distribute them. Keep in mind your goals, KPIs, and prioritized channels.

#7 Act and Track Performance

Last but not least, start creating content, posting it, and tracking its performance. If your goals are reached and your KPIs show that your content is performing well, you can’t update your strategy to set new milestones. If it’s difficult to reach your goals, it’s a good idea to review your strategy and see where you tried to jump over your head. In any case, make the right steps to create a strategy you can actually work with successfully.

All in all, creating an effective yet simple content marketing strategy for your business is possible – and even necessary. Use the steps in this article to help you create your own strategy and continue regularly updating it to make it more efficient.


Frank HamiltonAbout the Author: Frank Hamilton is a blogger and translator from Manchester. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German and English.




The Importance of Digital Engagement for Healthcare Marketers

Rebecca Wong, Managing Director, Three Whiskey US

The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of digital engagement and virtual connection, especially for healthcare providers and companies. This year it will become increasingly important for healthcare marketers to leverage these digital channels in order to keep up with evolving customer needs and build brand trust. 

So, how can healthcare companies transform their digital experience? 

Providers are now shifting how they deliver care to virtual settings, whenever possible, while still focusing on quality patient care. Communication through digital channels such as email, social media, and messaging, will become increasingly important for customer updates as well as reminders of the company’s safety measures throughout the pandemic. 

Healthcare marketers will need to ensure these digital channels not only provide a good patient or customer experience but also that they’re equipped to handle an influx of online customer engagement, for example on social channels, for faster conversion. 

Additionally, providers and healthcare companies will need to shift their focus on analytics to properly track conversions and online behavior. Using analytics to demonstrate the value of these channels will become increasingly important.

Limited capabilities with in-person channels will lead to a focus on digital

With sales teams being limited in their reach during the pandemic, digital channels have proven their effectiveness and importance during this time. Going forward, customer engagement and brand awareness through digital channels will be a key focus for marketers. 

In addition to improving digital channels that impact the customer experience, healthcare marketers should also rely on digital like SEO, content marketing, and paid media to increase the brand’s online visibility and potential conversions. We have seen increased investment and focus on paid media channels with our clients since the beginning of the year. When integrated with analytics, digital marketing is a powerful way to demonstrate the effectiveness of healthcare marketers’ digital engagement strategy.  

Patients are seeking information online

Patients have been increasingly taking healthcare into their own hands and seeking information online to ensure they have quality healthcare. With the pandemic, virtual appointments are increasing as in-person engagements are limited. Providers need to focus on offering a superior digital experience in order to keep up with evolving patient behaviors. 

Improving SEO to ensure your provider website is visible in search and information is easily accessible to your customers will be a major focus. Expert health information will position your company as a trusted resource.

Providers and healthcare marketers will also need to focus on digital, especially social channels, to inform patients of updates, current research and healthcare trends, and the latest technology available. Social channels can increase engagement and customer relationships by sharing trusted expert advice. 

Healthcare marketers have greater digital capabilities than ever before, and these should be leveraged in order to provide the best consumer experience possible. 

Demonstrating success will be important for newer channels

In 2021, healthcare marketing requires a more integrated approach in terms of measurement and delivery across systems. Some digital channels may not have been fully utilized in the past but with an increased focus on these channels, demonstrating ROI will be important. To ensure you’re tracking the right metrics at the correct touchpoints, it’s essential to set up a measurement framework during your initial planning stage.

Healthcare marketers need to begin by identifying the objectives of the provider’s digital channels. From there, you can determine the type of data that should be tracked for successful conversions. For example, in hospitals, this could be appointments made, whereas, for pharmaceutical companies, this could be scripts written or actual product sales. 

Sometimes new products, such as advanced technology or hospital equipment, have long sales cycles. The FDA approval process is also lengthy, but customers may be interested before approval. Tracking customer requests for information is a key area in which healthcare marketers can demonstrate the success of their digital channels. By tracking each step of the cycle, from inquiry to purchase, healthcare marketers can gain deeper insight into the buyer’s journey and apply that to future marketing strategies. 

Conclusion

With an increase in virtual patient care and customers seeking information online, digital channels will become increasingly important for healthcare marketers. Demonstrating ROI in these channels will be imperative as companies continue on their digital transformation journeys. This shift towards digital allows marketers to engage with customers better and will continue in 2021. 

 

 




Lessons That Sports Marketers, And Everyone, Should Have Learned From The 2020 Super Bowl As We Approach The 2021 Game

Arthur Solomon

As usual, there are many lessons for sports marketers and their communications arms to consider after a Super Bowl — the National Football League’s really big overly-hyped, overly-expensive advertising and publicity gimmick and overly-hyped football game. But the 2020 game added a new tutorial that I call the “Robert Burns Effect.”

Burns, as I’m sure everyone in the communications business knows, because they all majored in English, instead of easy PR, marketing or advertising courses, (sarcasm intended), is the legendary Scottish poet famous for his “To a Mouse,” which contains the lines, “The best-laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley.” (All you PR majors who never took a lit course know what the translation to English is because it’s famous. Right?)

Several days prior to last year’s Super Bowl, the tragic death of Kobe Bryant provided important lessons that sports marketers, ad agencies and PR practitioners should always remember: Like the mouse in the Burns poem that failed to find shelter from the December winds, one unexpected event can cause disarray among sports marketing plans. 

Feared of being labeled insensitive because of Bryant’s death, some marketers hurriedly announced changes to their Super Bowl promotions. Ad Age reported that some Super Bowl advertisers paused their marketing efforts in the wake of Bryant’s 

death. Several brands, including Procter & Gamble’s Olay held back making public its Super Bowl creative. Planters, whose Super Bowl campaign centered on the death of its spokescharacter Mr. Peanut, also said it was pausing all campaign activities following the news, reported. Jeanine Poggi, Ad Age’s senior editor, on January 27 (2020). In addition, on January 30, Nat Ives reported in his CMO TODAY Wall Street Journal column that marketers had to make cuts and edits in their commercials.

Another lesson deals with using sports stars as endorsers. After the initial shock of Bryant’s tragic death, and stories portraying him as the greatest thing since the National Football League was founded, (yes, I know he was a basketball player but this is a football column) the media delved into Bryant’s past, and revived facts about him that basketball junkies and sports marketers would rather not read – his attitude toward others and, more important, a sexual assault charge, even though he seemed to be a changed person, giving back, as he aged.

The Bryant coverage was not unusual. It is now standard practice of most print journalists to tell the entire story about a sports star and not cover up their blemishes, as was the practice years ago when I was a sports writer. But, alas, coming clean about an athlete’s unsportsmanlike conduct is likely not to be heard from game day TV or radio commentators, especially game analysts who knew or played with the tarnished athletes. As Michael Powell wrote in his January 28, (2020) New York Times column, referring to Bryant being accused of sexually assaulting a young women in 2003, “Relatively few in the news media or basketball did themselves proud, and you are left to wonder if Bryant would have survived in a #MeToo age of awareness.” And a January 30 Wall Street Journal article said, “Bryant’s case never went to trial, but ended with him apologizing to his accuser “for my behavior that night.” Bryant had said the encounter was consensual, but his apology and subsequent silence about the details of the case left lingering questions about what happened. (The criminal case was dropped in 2005, when he settled with the woman.)

In his CMO TODAY Wall Street Journal column on January 29, Nat Ives led with, “Good morning. Americans are not looking forward to the presidential campaign ads coming to the Super Bowl on Sunday. President Trump and Michael Bloomberg are each planning minute-long commercials during the game, but 63% of Americans call the Super Bowl an inappropriate platform for political ads, according to a poll by Morning Consult for CMO Today. It’s not a partisan issue, either: Republicans aren’t interested in seeing the president’s ad during the game, and Democrats would rather not see Mr. Bloomberg’s. They may be a good idea anyway, given the extra attention that viewers pay to Super Bowl ads, marketing professor Aimee Drolet told me. Even if folks are annoyed at the time, their memory will be enhanced and they are more likely to retrieve the arguments these ads make, she said. The irritation fades quicker than their memory.”

If there was any doubt which of the two political commercials would receive greater news coverage it was decided a few days prior to the game, when it was announced that the Bloomberg ad would take on gun control.

Prior to the 2020 game, Ad Age reported on several aspects regarding the efficacy of Super Bowl commercials that marketers should consider. The most important one was to have an after-the-game program, meaning that the cost of a $5.6-million 30 second commercial, not including production and talent fees, which can add several additional millions to the price, is not enough to do its job, and even after the additional spending it might not bring the results marketers wanted.

Disproving That Any Publicity Is Good Publicity

There were four “big hit” articles about the Super Bowl, to use a term loved by TV football game announcers, that I saw prior to the coin toss of the 2020 game, two in the January 31 New York Times; another in its February 2 edition; the other in the February 1 Wall Street Journal:

The Times: One, in the business section, was headlined “These Brands have Better Uses for Money Than a Super Bowl Ad.” A few key points: Commercials messages lost in the clutter of other ads; the exposure gained by advertising during the game is not worth the cost, and marketers can learn a lot more information about consumers who click on online ads than by those who watch them on TV. 

The second story was a full page article titled, “It’s Flawed. It’s Ugly. It’s Beautiful.” It had three of the Times’ culture journalists opining why 100 million people still watch the game. Early in the print discussion, it was pointed out that people watch the game despite its ugly side – brain diseases caused by repeated head hits, not only by concussions, which the NFL tried to cover up, the domestic abuse problems by some players and racial aspects associated with the NFL.

The third Times’ article was a continuation of its “football’s hold on America” series. It chronicled how three Miami Dolphin players from their undefeated1972 team – Earl Morrall, Bob Kuechenberg and Bill Stanfill had chronic traumatic encephalopathy. (C.T. E.), the degenerative brain disease associated with repeated head trauma. It said that another Dolphin star, Nick Buoniconti, who died in July, 2019, and suffered from dementia, wanted his brain donated to Boston University’s C.T.E. center, the leading research facility into chronic traumatic encephalopathy degenerative brain disease linked to repeated hits to the head. The article also told how other members of the team developed other health problems at a younger age than the general population, according to a 2011 study published in the American Neurological Association‘s Annals of Neurology.

Wall Street Journal: The Journal article, under the headline,The Cloud Hanging Over the Super Bowl,” said, “Amid all the escapism, it will be interesting to see how much reality seeps into the proceedings. There’s plenty of it. The Chiefs have faced domestic violence issues the past couple years, including a case involving one of their most crucial stars, receiver Tyreek Hill. And of course, the last time the 49ers were in the Super Bowl, in 2013, Colin Kaepernick was the quarterback. A good bet would be an over/under on how many times he is mentioned on Sunday. I’ll take the under. (That marketers continue to shrug off stories like these that are published by the hundreds each year underscores their true nature – as long as their product sells, or they think it sells from sports associations, anything goes. Some of these same marketers are “proud sponsors” of international sporting events, like the Olympics, that are awarded to totalitarian governments and used as propaganda tools.) 

Also, The New York Times, which year-round publishes articles regarding the negative health aspects from playing tackle football, with most of the articles in the paper appearing as the Super Bowl becomes closer, didn’t wait that long in 2020. On February 15, a lengthy column by Michael Powell told the story of a young college football player who killed himself because he feared he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.), which scientists who examined his brain confirmed. After looking up the symptoms of C.T.E. the 21-yeatr-old shot himself.

And a full page article on August 26, detailed that former Black players sued the NFL for discriminating against them when deciding the amount of money an individual receives from the 2013concussion settlement case.

A lengthy Washington Post Magazine article on September 20, 2020, by Patrick Hruby said, “Scientists believe that repetitive brain trauma — not just concussions, but also less severe subconcussive blows like the hits football linemen absorb on every snap — is a precondition for CTE. Last year, Boston University researchers found that for football players, both the risk of developing the disease and its severity increase with the number of years playing the sport; athletes whose youth-to-pro careers lasted more than 14.5 years were 10 times as likely to have CTE as those who played fewer.” The article also reported that the NFL, which now admits damage to brains can occur from hits to the head, for many years denied that it was so.

As the date of the 2021 Super Bowl drew closer, so did the news articles regarding the health dangers to players.

A New York Times story on January 19, chronicled the story of two NFL quarterbacks knocked out of their divisional playoff games with concussion-like symptoms, with one broadcast analyst asking why are the rules against head-to-head contact not being enforced in the playoff games. The article also said, “Many concussions, though, go unreported, either because doctors and neurologists at the game failed to spot them or because the players masked their symptoms.”

The NFL has forever attempted to put a good face on its problems, ranging from originally denying that hits to the head would cause brain damage to finding reasons to excuse players for their anti-social behavior and breaking Covid-19 rules. There’s a Yiddish word “chutzpah,” one of whose meanings is gall, and that’s what I think of the NFL inviting Covid-19 workers as guests to the 2021 Super Bowl, given its history of denying the health hazards of the game. Question: Could the fact that only a limited number of paying fans will be permitted to attend the game have anything to do with the NFL’s decision?(Reminds me of the joke about the youngster that kills his parents and then pleads for mercy because he is an orphan.)

Circumventing The Big Price Tag

Mega events – sports and none sports – are an easy target for cleaver ambush marketers and on, January 31, Ad Age reported that, “PETA seems to be up to its old tricks again. The organization was trending earlier today after it posted a tweet saying Fox banned its ad featuring animals taking a knee while the National Anthem plays to show solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. It’s a move PETA has made countless times around the Super Bowl: the organization creates an ad that has no chance of being shown on broadcast TV and then getting irate when it gets rejected.” 

More Important Than The Winning Team

The most important part of a Super Bowl to the publics that really matter, the advertising community, TV networks and sport marketers (without whom the Big Game would be just another Small Game), is the reaction to the commercials by ad industry pundits; definitely more important than the game’s winner.

Jeanine Poggi, Ad Age’s senior editor, said, “This year (2020) failed to produce very many commercial standouts. The desire to not provoke controversy and steer clear of anything divisive, resulted in bland ads that utilized recycled material and quite literally borrowed from each other.” (Personal Observation: Bland Super Bowl ads are the norm rather than the exception.)

No review of the Super Bowl would be complete without opining on the reaction of the sports/marketing/advertising writers, because without their pre-game hype journalism, the Super Bowl wouldn’t be super. 

Instead of just writing about their own impressions of the commercials, the ad/marketing writers reported the public’s reaction to individual 2020 ads. Ridiculous. The game was watched by more than 102-million viewers, so any report on viewers’ reactions reminds me of the 2016 polling that assured everyone of a Hillary Clinton victory.

But anyway, the following is what the self-anointed ad connoisseurs said about the popularity and effectiveness of the TV commercials: Ad Meter said the most popular ad was the Jeep commercial; You Tube said it was the Amazon ad; Twitter’s Brand Bowl crowned Google’s ad as the most popular; Salesforce said that President Trump’s commercial received 75.6 percent positive reactions, but Ad Meter voters ranked the same ad last. Ipsos said the Doritos commercials had the most emotional effect, based on measuring the reactions of 40 people out of an audience of more than 102-million viewers; however, a similar measurement by Unruly said the most effective ad was one by Google. (Is a puzzlement?as Yul Brynner said in Broadway’s “The King and I”)

Alexandra Barasch an assistant professor at the New York University Stern School of Business, said, “…with so little agreement over how to measure effectiveness and impact, every one can find someway to claim success and advance their own interests.” Other marketing pros have often said that the results from a Super Bowl ad did not justify the cost of a commercial.

Writer’s Note: — The information in the above two paragraphs was taken from a February 6, 2020, New York Times article by Tiffany Hsu. 

The N.F.L. Hype Allies

The sports writing community in 2020 did what too many of their craft still do. While covering up for athletes’ misdeeds are mostly a thing of the past, hero-worshiping stories are still too common, as is pack journalism. The sameness of the torrent of after the game stories could have been predicted before the first writer punched in a letter on a keyboard: “A new dynasty is born;” “Patrick Mahomes is the new face of the NFL;”and “Nice Guy Andy Reid finally wins a Super Bowl.” The PR staffs of the NFL and teams couldn’t have written them better. (The gods of journalism must be thankful for the New York Times’ coverage of the N.F.L., whose reports include the warts of the game.) Coincidentally, the same day the above stories appeared the Times published the obituary of Willie Woods, the Hall of Fame defensive back with the Green Bay Packers in the 1960s, who died the day after the Super Bowl. The article mentioned that he was diagnosed with dementia in 2006 and had undergone four major football-related operations.

Extra Points

The 2020 half-time show, featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, was most likely an anathema to the person who did the most to insert politics into sports, the twice impeached former President Trump. Its creative included symbolisms that only a liberal could like: Two Latin super stars featured in America’s game, young backup singers performing behind metal bars that suggested the plight of the Dreamers, or maybe the children held in cages at the Southern border, and Lopez draped in an American flag costume that reversed to a Puerto Rican flag. As usual, more viewers –103-million – watched the halftime performance than the game. Not even Mahomes’ thrilling fourth quarter performance that catapulted Kansas City to a victory could match the moves of Shakira and J.Lo.

So now that the NFL has allowed a team to relocate in Las Vegas (after decades of saying the city is off limits), and has permitted some team owners to invest in betting companies, cynics might say that the league’s new motto should be, “Flexibility is our name.” Or maybe the league should dish its shield and replace it with $$$ symbols, adorned with gold lettering saying, “Bet Responsibly, But Bet And Don’t Forget To Drink.” Because in its February 10-18, 2020, issue, the SportsBusiness Journal reported that the NFL is searching for a candidate for the new position of “vice president of sports betting.” (Suggestion: Limit the search to senior executives at Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Ameritrade, etc.) On January 28, 2021, it reported, “The American Gaming Association (AGA) estimates that 26 million Americans will bet on Super Bowl LIV, up 15% from last year…, while about 5 million will place a bet on an online or mobile platform. The rest of the 26 million will bet with a bookie, in a pool or casually with family and friends.” And on February 2, The New York Times reported, “Online gambling sites are offering can’t-lose propositions, giving away easy money to attract new customers to a nascent multibillion-dollar industry. These come-ons should reach a peak just ahead of the Super Bowl.”

At one time sports was positioned as bringing out the best in the American character and its performers, and the league commissioner’s as protectors of that ideal, which was always a fairy tale promoted with the help of sports writers as everyone associated with the business of sports knows (as are the Halls of Fame). But because of relaxed betting rules, sports has contributed to a fast corrosion of American culture in a way that is now damaging to the well-being of people who don’t know a linebacker from a balk.

If there was one major take-a-way that sports marketers should learn from the 2020 Super Bowl, it’s that participating in it is as likely to result in negative publicity as it is to gain positive coverage. But it doesn’t matter. Because, unlike people associated with the advertising and PR agencies, the networks and the NFL, the game and the $5-million plus commercials will be forgotten in a few days by people who have a life to live, and the marketers will have to devise other strategies to get consumers to care.

Of course, there were other important takeaways during 2020 directly related to the Big Game that marketers should have considered before automatically writing a check to advertise on the upcoming 2021 Super Bowl. They include the public’s reactions to the unhealthy aspects of the game, the politics that are now ingrained in the game’s DNA because of President Trump using it as a political football and most important, how the public will react to “fun” or “solemn” commercials, because by the time the game is played this year on February 7 nearly 500,000 Americans will have died in the U.S. from the coronavirius. Because of these and perhaps economic concerns, some past Super Bowl advertisers are sitting out this year’s game. They include SodaStream, Sabra, and Avocados from Mexico, Pepsi, Coca-Cola and Hyundai, to mention a few that have decided to take a pass. 

Budweiser, instead of running a drink and have fun commercial, in an attempt to be considered a “good corporate citizen,” will provide the funds to help raise awareness of the benefits of getting the coronavirus vaccine. But don’t be fooled. 

They’ll still be advertising their other products, including one for Bud Light and Michelob Ultra. A January 26 Wall Street Journal article about the decision included the following “The corporate spot, a first for Anheuser-Busch during the Super Bowl, will include Budweiser and other company brands. We cannot talk about AB without Budweiser, said Marcel Marcondes, U.S. chief marketing officer at Anheuser-Busch, adding that the spot may even include Clydesdales.” (Sort of like, what are you going to believe, what we want you to believe or what you see?)

Obviously, the Bud announcement was an attempt to obtain good publicity from a crisis that has thus far killed nearly 500,000 Americans. Unlike, Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and Dolly Parton, who didn’t make a big deal about their contributions to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, Bud decided to toast itself publicly for its decision. Joining Bud in this obvious crass publicity ploy was the NFL,(no surprise there), which all of a sudden discovered poetry by inviting Amanda Gorman, the young poet who gained sudden fame at President Joe Biden’s inauguration with her reading of “The Hill We Climb.” At the over-hyped football game, Miss Gorman will recite a new poem before the official coin toss recognizing an educator, a nurse, and a veteran for helping their communities during the coronavirus pandemic.  Obviously, Bud and the NFL don’t agree with another poet, Alexander Pope who wrote Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.” in his An Essay on Man.”

Several days before the game, another Wall Street Journal advertising story, on January 27, mentioned that some companies are resorting to ambush marketing to create a Super Bowl tie-in, rather than spend the increasingly higher costs of nationally advertising on the game telecast. Two companies that were mentioned were GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Boston Beer. (Despite the complaints of “official sponsors” of all mega sports events, ambush marketing efforts often receive the most free media coverage because of their cleverness. Ambush marketing has been around for a long time and is increasingly being used to circumvent the sky-high costs of becoming “official.”)

Unlike the missing brands sponsorships, one issue that will remain will be the political affects on the NFL that were super glued on the league by the former president. Even though he is gone from office, ex President Trump and NFL football are still joined at the hip. In his closing days of office, the twice impeached president sought to gain some favorable publicity but was thwarted when New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick announced that he is declining the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

While the winner of the February 7 game and the efficacies of the commercials are not known as of this writing, one thing is certain: 

People will be watching for racial justice protests by athletes in the upcoming Super Bowl and in future NFL games. And not even the NFL shield can prevent those protests from receiving major media coverage. Example: A Sports of The Times column on page one of the January 25 New York Times urged fans and football players not to forget Colin Kaepernick’s willingness to destroy his career by protesting  racism by keeling during the national anthem., This season, many teams stayed off-the field during the playing of the anthem.

As I write this on February 2, thus far in my two “must reads,” The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and on TV newscasts, there has been less Super Bowl coverage than in the past. That’s good, in my opinion. A sporting event should not dominate news coverage, especially this one that is a vehicle for TV commercials, even though I’m looking forward to seeing Dolly Parton make her Super Bowl debut in one. 

Oh, before I forget. There was a football game last year. Kansas City defeated Miami, as if that matters to the marketers, the networks and the NFL. The score is unimportant, unless you bet the spread.

And there is also a game scheduled be played on February 7 this year between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The winner might be important to fans not associated with the marketing of the Big Game.


The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.

 




The Content Council Announces New Board of Directors

New Chair, Red Havas EVP Linda Descano, CFA®, Brings Years of Merged Media Experience to the World’s Premiere Content Marketing Organization

CommPRO Editorial Staff

The Content Council, the premier nonprofit organization representing content marketers globally, is pleased to announce the election of its 2021–2023 board of directors. Linda Descano, CFA®, executive vice president and head of corporate communications at Red Havas, will serve as chair of the board.

Descano will serve alongside an impressive roster of content and communications leaders with unique backgrounds and diverse experiences:

  • Zack Bryant, Principal and Studio Director, Journey Group
  • Jacqueline Loch, Executive Vice President, Customer Innovation, SJC Content, St. Joseph Communications
  • Brian Snapp, Vice President, Content Strategy, Rauxa
  • Meg Sullivan Staknis, Managing Director, Imprint
  • Joe Stella, Vice President, Business Development, GLC
  • Beth Tomkiw, Chief Content Officer, Trusted Media Brands
  • Paul Tsigrikes, Head of Marketing and General Manager of The Trust at The Wall Street Journal & Barron’s Group

“There has never been a more dynamic time to be in the content marketing business, and I am thrilled to lead The Content Council as chair,” Descano said. “We look forward to harnessing the lessons learned in 2020 to help our members produce more purpose-driven, authentic content programs that also deliver business results.”




The Impact of Blockchain: Its Potential in Digital Marketing across Consumers, Businesses, and Marketers

Joshua Q. Israel Satten, Blockchain Practice Lead and Evangelist – North America, Wipro Limited

Beyond the blockchain hype lies its true potential, leading to new pathways towards implementation and real usage of the underlying technology set (most notably distributed ledger, smart contracts, crypto-assets, and encryption). These are being realized across supply-chain, financial services, and manufacturing with potential adoption in digital marketing prime to become the next key example. The opportunities and areas where key issues are being sought for remediation, as well as market enhancements, are best discussed in three buckets: (1) digital marketing companies advertising to potential consumers on behalf of their corporate clients, (2) corporate clients looking to market to consumers and optimize their spend on digital marketers, and (3) the consumers themselves.

Many companies who frequently face a twofold issue related to how their marketing companies typically hire a plethora of third-party companies to ensure the content gets to consumers, and further, must then ensure that those consumers are good potential customers, and more critically, that they are real people. A rise of bots over the past few years, combined with a glut of websites and services setup purely to produce clicks and views to drive digital advertising revenue has created an incredible minefield of unreliable data for many large corporate clients who can’t quantify their actual marketing ROI as a result.

Distributed Ledger (DLT) could allow communications professionals to track and authenticate consumer data as the technology enables secure and trusted transactions between parties, thus creating much more scrutiny around the need and role of third-party data-mining vendors. Where verifying data becomes easier, the benefits of decentralization will beget workflow changes and the very nature of marketing teams and their metrics, while the touchpoints by which marketers track consumer interactions and metrics will be altered by blockchain’s transaction management, interoperability, and data verification capabilities. With these workflow changes, marketers will see long-term benefits in working with higher quality and more verifiable data by working directly with consumers versus third-party data-mining vendors.

Today, consumers are expected to log their personal data (name, number, email, password, etc.) with every company they engage with online for account verification and this year we saw some of the largest and most damaging consumer data breaches which could have been better mitigated through decentralization and encryption. Distributed networks with encryption protocols support decentralized digital records of secure transactions meaning that each digital transaction is securely logged across several locations across an entire distributed network with the data fully masked with blockchain acting as the consumer’s personal identification and authentication key to unmask or access said data.

Distributed ledger’s value of transparency could allow consumers to double-check the status, condition, lineage, or authenticity of a product they purchased. Foods claiming to be organic and locally sourced, medicines requiring temperature-controlled storage, unique artwork, and high-end luxury goods like diamond jewelry are all examples of product areas where we’ve begun to see this radical movement towards customer accessibility that implicitly compels companies to be held accountable. This increased transparency works in two ways because as brick and mortar stores become eCommerce platforms, they are at a growing risk of counterfeiters selling fraudulent products and hackers breaching their consumer databases. These vulnerabilities put corporate profits, reputation, and consumer confidence at risk.

At the end of the day, to fully realize the potential of blockchain in digital marketing, marketers will need to embrace the fact that in essence, all marketing is becoming digital marketing, while blockchain hype brought an influx of people, ideas, and experiments and its initial impact has been fragmented – what’s left are real-life and sustainable solutions to current needs and problems.


Joshua Q. Israel Satten, Blockchain Practice Lead and Evangelist – North America, Wipro LimitedAbout the Author: Joshua Q. Israel Satten is the Director for Wipro’s Blockchain Practice and the leader of the Blockchain Financial Services practice in North America. With over 15 years of global diversified experience, Joshua has been instrumental in creating, managing, and scaling transformational growth for several top-tier financial services companies over the past decade. In his current role, Joshua holds a dual position – one he serves as the leader and evangelist for Blockchain for Financial services in North America. As part of this, he closely works with our financial services business unit, various consortia and partners, advising and leading the blockchain journey for Wipro’s financial service clients. Two, he is responsible for Wipro’s global Blockchain Center of Excellence team (COE). In this role and as a face to the industry, he represents Wipro in various industry forums, builds connections with Business / IT Leadership across industries and geographies, and works with Industry Analysts to gain mind-share in the global blockchain ecosystem.

 

 




Lessons That Sports Marketers, And Everyone, Should Have Learned From The 2019 Super Bowl (As We Approach The 2020 Game)

Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

A credible argument can be made that the Super Bowl craze began, not because it featured two teams battling for the U.S.A. Concussion Football Championship, but because it was touted by marketing, advertising writers, PR and ad agencies and TV commentators as featuring the best, most, enjoyable products of the advertising industry – TV commercials with superior creativeness and entertainment value – as well as shameful hype from sports writers. Cynics not associated with the promotion of the game and telecast believe that the commercials were never so superior. (Once in a while there was a brilliant spot). But what is actually responsible for the massive media hype is the cost of the commercials.

Lessons That Sports Marketers, And Everyone, Should Have Learned From The 2019 Super Bowl There have been many Lessons Learned by marketers who have shelled out the Big Bucks so their commercials can be seen during the Super Bowl and, hopefully, have enough legs to receive extended media coverage. Unfortunately for marketers, PR people and ad agencies, for the past decade or so more news worthy events than the cost of a TV spot have often over shadowed the commercials, as it did during the lead-up to last years telecast, when the cost of a 30 second spot was reported to be in excess of $5-million, as it will again this year.

Politics, violence against women by NFL players and health matters related to football are subjects that both sports marketers and the NFL would rather not be the subjects of news stories during Super Bowl week (or any other time). But as the football family and President Trump has learned the media doesn’t give into the wants of powerful people, either in the White House or in the NFL’s commissioner’s office, and all three subjects received major media attention in 2019, as they again did in the lead-up to the 2020 game between. the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on February. 2.

As usual, there will be many lessons that sports marketers will learn from this year’s Super Bowl. But unexpectedly there was three idiosyncratic lessons learned just a couple of weeks after last year’s game, one that dated back to 2018. They concerned the relationships between employer, employees, public relations practitioners and the media. 

Lesson 1Not even Bob Costas, the longtime voice of NBC Sports for nearly 40 years, could escape employer punishment for expressing his opinion about the concussion problem in the NFL. Because of his comments, he was removed from the 2018 Super Bowl, he said, and subsequently left the network in early 2019.

Lesson 2 – The second lesson should be remembered by employers: The more powerful you are in the business world, the greater the media coverage when a wrong doing is exposed. An example was the headline coverage on February 22-23 regarding New England Patriot’s owner Robert Kraft being charged in a sex sting, which he has denied.

Lesson 3 – This one relates to people in our businesses, who work for individuals or entities that have been involved in PR crises, like Mr. Kraft: Despite the work of self-designated PR crises specialists, once a reputation is lost, it will forever be remembered by the media in subsequent stories of the same nature. (Believe me, Mr. Kraft will long be remembered in football circles for reasons other than his team winning Super Bowls.)

Of course, there were loads of lessons that are more mundane than the above ones:

Despite not knowing what the efficacy of the mega-costly TV commercials will be, along with the number of concussions and other bodily injuries players might receive during the 2020 game, one thing is certain: The Super Bowl will always provide lessons for sports marketers.

Here are some of the most important ones from 2019:

  • Arguably the most important one for marketers is that politics in now ingrained in the Super Bowl’s DNA, as it is in all entities and individuals who have experienced a PR crisis, because of President Trump’s S.O.B. remarks about football players who kneel during the National Anthem and the NFL’s obvious blacklisting of Colin Kaepernick for fomenting the kneel strategy as a means of highlighting racial injustice. Try as the NFL and marketers may, it’s now impossible to separate the NFL from politics. Even though Kaepernick was not on the field during the 2019 game, his presence was felt during the lead-up to and on Super Bowl day: A barrage of news stories contained quotes from entertainers explaining their positions about not taking part in Super Bow activities. And during the game, Kaepernick posted pictures of athletes and celebrities supporting him.
  • All the hype didn’t stop the media from questioning NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about violence against women committed by NFL players, specifically, Kareem Hunt, the Kansas City Chief’s running back, and the San Francisco’s 49 ers Reuben Foster.
  • While the NFL and its sponsors attempted to flood the media with “Super Bowl Fun Facts,” there are other statistics that they would rather not have received coverage: The mental and physical damage to their gladiators – the football players – both during their active careers and after. What has become a staple of the lead-up to the Super Bowl is media coverage detailing the physical dangers to those who play “America’s Sport.” And 2019 was no exception.

Here are several examples:

  • The first major article I noticed regarding the negative life altering affects of playing football caught me by surprise because of where it appeared – not on the sports pages or medical columns, but as a huge lead editorial in the January 19 New York Times. The author, Alex Kingsbury, cited examples, of injuries to players and research from medical journals that should be required reading by every parent before deciding whether to let their child participate in what should not be called a game. Astonishingly, the article also quoted New England quarterback Tom Brady as saying, “Your body gets used to the hits…my brain is wired for contact. I would say in some ways it has become callous to the hits,”(making me think Brady took one hit too many). 
  • Then, surprisingly, a new element that described the adverse health affects from playing football at all levels was reported on January 20 in the NYT. It was about how high school, college and NFL coaches encourage linemen to gain weight so they can better protect the quarterback from pass rushing defensive players. The story, headlined “The N.F.L.’S Other Scourge: Obesity” described how coaches encourage obesity, a life-threatening condition, by telling linemen to bulk up in order to play in the NFL. Because of the “gain to play” requirements, NFL linemen have higher rates of hypertension, obesity and sleep apnea then other players or the general public. As the Times reported, “blocking for a $25-million-a-year quarterback, it turns out, can put linemen in the high risk category for many of the ailments health experts readily encourage people to avoid. On Super Bowl weekend, the Times published two articles that detailed the horrific nature of what is dishonestly called a game, when rightly it should be called legalized assault.
  • On February 2, a two page article beginning on page one of SportsSaturday told how a former NFL player’s anxiety about his worsening C.T.E. symptoms caused him to commit suicide. The next day, beginning on page one of SportsSunday, another huge article told of how football players become addicted to painkillers, so they can continue playing, and then how the craving follows them when their career ends. (President Trump and football controversy seem as tied together as are laces and shoes. In a Super Bowl day “Face The Nation” interview, when asked if he would want his son to play football, he said “Would I steer him that way? No, I wouldn’t. I just don’t like the reports that I see coming out   having to do with football. It’s a dangerous sport and I would have a hard time with it,” he said. Trump is the second president who voiced misgivings about having their sons play football. Obama said that if he had a son, he would not let him play football.)
  • An article by nutritionists at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, MN, said pizza, fully loaded nachos and fried chicken wings are among some of the most popular, yet most fat-laden offenders, at Super Bowl parties. They all have around 800-1,000 calories and about 50 g of fat in a typical party-sized portion. For example, two pieces of all-meat pizza contain 940 calories and 56 g of fat. (A meal that only people who have stock in makers of cholesterol -lowering meds might endorse.)

    As the above article revealed, the lead-up to the 2019 game showed how damaging to a person’s health football can be to individuals who never even played a down and watch it on TV. Instead of being subjected to the big life-altering hits on the grid iron, the food served at Big Game parties can do the damage to internal body mechanisms. 

    Football has been called “America’s Game,” baseball it’s “National Pastime.” Both have a checkered marketing history, which includes proud sponsorships from tobacco, all sorts of alcoholic beverages and foods that health experts deem unhealthy. So it’s only natural that the 2019 game ushered in another activity that is detrimental to many Americas – legalized betting.

    “Now fans are able to play the game within the game,” Lisa Kerney, formerly of ESPN, was quoted as saying in a January 30 Times story. Now part of a sports betting show, Kerney, the Times reported, now “rattles off N.F.L. point spreads and money-line odds as easily as a CNBC host talks stock prices and P/E ratios.” Also during the 2019-2020 season New York’s Fox 5 shamefully sold time to DRAFTKINGSSPORTSBOOK, a half-hour tutorial on how to bet on-line. Missing from the show’s script is a line saying that “anyone who has bet at a casino or with a bookie knows the house always wins.” (I’m certainly not puritanical in my beliefs. I’ve done my share of gambling and enjoying an occasional drink. But I find it hypocritical and deceitful to have sports leagues hawk their charitable activities and position athletes as role models and then permit products that can be detrimental to viewers’ before, after or on game telecasts, knowing that a large part of their audience are youngsters or other impressionable  people.)

    As usual, there was the always debates over the goal of Super Bowl ads: Is it to build brand awareness or drive product sales? Leslie Zane, founder and president of Triggers Growth Strategy, argued in an op-ed for Ad Age that Super Bowl ads should lead to sales and that far too many advertisements during the Big Game aren’t built to actually change brand preference.

    An article in the Wall Street Journal revealed that even self-designated marketing experts disagree about commercial strategy. Some brands think commercials are more impactful by keeping them under wraps until they are seen on the Super Bowl telecast. Other specialists advise releasing the ads before the telecast so the brand can get the most free viewings of them

    Clients and the creators of Super Bowl TV commercials also hope that their multi-million dollar ads will long be remembered by consumers and the media after the game. That’s what Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light brew ad achieved, ever since its commercial disparaged Miller Life and Coors Light for using corn syrup in its brewing process. The “my beer is better than your beer” ad battle resulted in MillerCoors suing Bud Light for misleading advertising.

    Newspaper articles regarding negative aspects of playing football, like the ones above before the 2019 game, usually begin a few weeks before the Super Bowl. But in 2019, on November 8, months before the February 2, 2020 kickoff, the New York Times launched a series about “footballs hold on America.” which included articles about the dangers to players’ health associated with playing football and other societal aspects of the game.

    Examples of negative football articles leading up to the 2020 Super Bowl:

    • The initial article told of the decline of participants in high school football and a meeting of NFL executives in 2017 that tried to create a strategy to save the game. The story said that “Over the last decade, the numbers of high school boys playing tackle football –  the heart and soul of the sport – has dropped  more than 10 percent.”
    • On November 13, the Times reported on how “More Players Question Injury Treatment.” The story told how players are now questioning treatment by team physicians and are seeking second opinions.
    • In an Op-Ed in the December 8 New York Times, Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown wrote that the National Football League is far behind the National Basketball Association in providing adequate pensions and medical insurance for players who helped build the sport, resulting in some past players not having enough money to cover their football associated medical bills.
    • On December 12, the New York Times published an article about researchers at Stamford University who are trying to develop a football helmet filled with water that can prevent brain injuries. The story included the following quote: “My fear is that a better helmet will give false reassurance,” said Dr. Lee Goldstein, a psychiatrist and researcher with the T.E. Center at Boston University, which has carried out pioneering research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease linked to repeated hits to the head. “It’s like developing a better cigarette filter. It’s smoother and it might not give you a hacking cough. But you still get lung cancer.”
    • “An exceptional special Times article on December 19, and updated on December 22, about the NFL at 100 by James Surowiecki included the following graphs: “Fans express outrage about the threat of brain damage to their heroes, so there must be at least a feigned effort at reducing hits. Where the league once celebrated violence, it now plays it down.” …“Of course, it’s impossible these days to treat the N.F.L. as simple entertainment. Watching football is necessarily an exercise in cognitive dissonance: Enjoying a game requires us, on some level, to ignore everything we know about brain injuries, the shortness of most players’ careers and the physical toll the game takes on their bodies, the team owners’ intolerance for some social commentary and the disregard for domestic and sexual assaults.”
    • In its January 4, 2020, edition, the Times ran a feature about the how the NFL wraps itself around the flag. It detailed the history of how the NFL has attempted to make its product synonymous with patriotism, which is evident at every game. But the story included a few lines that the league, its networks, commentators and friendly sports journalists never mention: “Military personnel in uniform, fighter jet flyovers, field-size flags, and red, white and blue festooned N.F.L. jerseys have become part of the game’s landscape. Despite criticism from certain corners about politicizing the game, the league has continued to embrace symbols of patriotism. Certain teams even accepted money from the Department of Defensefor patriotic displays during games, with the league eventually returning more than $700,000 following an audit.”

      The Times wasn’t the only pub to print stories about injuries suffered by football players:

      • A study in Annals of Neurology,by a team of researchers from the Boston University CTE Center, published on October 7 and reported in numerous publications, said that for every year of playing football the risk of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) increases by 30 percent. And for every 2.6 years of play, the risk of developing CTE doubles, because of repeated head collisions.
      • The December 2-8 Sports Business Journal ran a full page article on lower extremity injuries that “have plagued players for years.”
      • Even articles extolling the virtues of football, like the one by Sam Walker in the December 21-22 Wall Street Journal, in which the author said that its “positive influence on kids will continue to outweigh the risks” if the right adjustments are made, noted the decline of high school participants in tackle football. The story included statistics from the National Federation of State High School Associations showing last season football “suffered its steepest loss of players in 33 years.” The pro-football article also mentioned the dangers of repeated brain concussions.

      Even before the Times launched its “footballs hold on America”” series, stories about the negative health affect of playing football actually began in August, when a study published in Science Advances, a peer reviewed scientific journal, published an article regarding a study showing that even one season of playing football without a concussion can cause brain tissue damage. The results of the research, conducted with University of Rochester football players, received coverage in scientific and consumer pubs, including a August 20 New York Times article.

      Of course, the above were only a fraction of negative football stories that were published.

      (The sum of the negative articles? Football is not all fun and games. The message? With apologies to Waylon Jennings, “Mama’s Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be football players.”)

      The Times also ran an article on January 17 about how the seamy side of football is whitewashed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The impetus for the article was the announcement, on January 15, that Paul Tagliabue, the NFL commissioner from 1989 to 2006, was voted to the Hall. To all but the most fervent football junkies, and, of course, the team owners, Tagliabue is remembered for his denial that football-related concussions can cause brain trauma and for having a non-brain specialist MD defend his position. The story also named past players that the Hall inducted, despite their having been suspended for unsavory conduct, or worse.

      And in a new variation of the Hail Mary pass, the Associated Press reported that the New Orleans Saints are going to court to keep the public from seeing hundreds of emails that allegedly show team executives doing public relations damage control for the area’s Roman Catholic archdiocese to help it contain the fallout from a burgeoning sexual abuse crisis.

      This year’s Super Bowl telecast will unveil new twists for viewers – the “Three-card Monte” or “Flimflam” advertising approach. The Wall Street Journal’s’ May 6 “CMO TODAY” column reported that the telecast will reduce the number of national commercial breaks per quarter from four to five, but the total amount  of ad time is not to be diminished. To put things in perspective: There were 49 minutes and 45 seconds of national commercials last year (2018).The actual amount of playing time in an NFL game is between 11- and 15 minutes.

      Also, in addition to TV viewers getting soused and filling their bodies with unhealthy foods during the commercial special known as the Super Bowl, there will be a new destructive element added for viewers: They will be able to bet on individual plays while having “just one more” and maybe get cancer, according to Japanese scientific study reported in the New York Times on December 24.

      As someone who has been involved in numerous mega sports marketing campaigns over the years – both nationally and internationally – but doesn’t bet on the outcomes, I can confidently predict, and be willing to put a few bucks on the following: 1 – Even before sales figures or audience surveys and attitudes are in, sponsors of the 2020 Super Bowl will say, “We’re pleased with the reception of our ads.” (Even if they’re not.) 2 – The Jennifer Lopez-Shakira  half-time show will draw a greater audience than the commercial-laden few minutes of actual football play, and, 3 – Despite marketers spending  more than $5-million dollars for 30 seconds of commercial time, all the ads will fall short of gaining the publicity that Michael

      Bloomberg’s one- minute national ad criticizing Donald Trump will receive. Both Bloomberg and the president announced on January 7 that they will advertise on the Super Bowl. From what I saw, Bloomberg’s announcement generated much more media coverage than the Trump disclosure.

      As soon as the Bloomberg-Trump commercials were made public, other advertisers became fearful that their ads would be shuffled to the practice squad, according to various news reports. And they were correct, as the pre-game publicity showed. So Fox decided to run the ads in close proximity to their own promotional ones. (In football terminology, that’s known as the “prevent defense.” But as football fans know, it often fails.) 

      The politicization of sports – especially the Super Bowl – is not a new story. Neither is the news that Facebook profits from permitting political lies on its site. What is new is a story that CNN broke on January  24 saying that, “President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign has run more than 200 misleading political advertisements on Facebook in the past day claiming the “Fake News media” will attempt to block the campaign’s upcoming Super Bowl ad — despite federal regulations that require the TV spot be aired.” (Is it only a matter of time before Facebook will run NFL ads saying that new scientific proof shows that football concussions help improve cognitive ability.) 

      Advertising on the Super Bowl, or any mega sporting event, instead of doing more targeted advertising, is like shooting craps. You roll the dice and hope for the best.

      A sure to happen discussion about whether the cost of producing and publicizing a TV commercial is the best way for a marketer to advertise will surely occur after this year’s game. But on January 14, one opinion was already in: In her daily run-up to the Super Bowl advertising column, Jeanine Poggi, Ad Age’s senior editor,  reported that, “After advertising in both 2010 and 2000, the last two times the census was taken, the U.S. Census Bureau will not run a commercial in the 2020 game.” “It isn’t an efficient spend of tax payers’ dollars,” says Alex Hughes, census program director at VMLY&R, which is handling the bureau’s 2020 ad campaign.

      I’ve been told in confidence by some sports marketers who are pressured to advertise on sports mega events that they feel the same way as the census people. Before committing to advertise on next years Super Bowl at the very least brand managers should have their agencies present them with alternative options before agreeing to spend more than $5-million for a :30 spot.


      The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com and artsolomon4pr (at) optimum.net.

       




      The Future of Content Marketing and What We Should Expect

      Nick Galov, HostingTribunal.com 

      There is no doubt that content marketing holds the number one spot for the most efficient and beneficial method of promotion and advertising in the world of the internet and social media. This marketing method has been around since the late 19th century and has revolutionized the way marketers connect and engage with their audience.

      Here’s a brief overview: 

      The first recorded mention of this kind of marketing in history books appears somewhere around the year 1885 when The Furrow magazine provided a guide for farmers on how to grow and improve their business. The next mention was in 1912 when the French tire company Michelin released a 400-page informational guide for drivers, which contained travel advice as well as information about auto maintenance services.

      The key point is – content marketing has been around for quite some time. We know how it contributed to the historical development of several industries.

      But now comes the $64,000 question: 

      What can we expect in the future?

      Nobody knows exactly how or in what specific way content marketing will continue to develop. But thanks to several studies and a bit of research, we can put the information side by side and dive deeper to get an idea of what we can expect.

      According to a study conducted by the CMI (Content Marketing Institute), as many as 87% of brands are currently using content marketing, with 53% of those claiming they aim to further increase investment in the next few years.

      What’s more, further information reveals that, at the current rate of development, the industry will see an annual growth of 16%, skyrocketing from $196.58 billion to $412 billion by 2021. This report highlights several contributing factors, such as global smartphone adoption, loyalty and brand objectives, lower cost of advertising than usual, and increased conversion. 

      Content marketing is also expected to be dominant in two major sections: video and evergreen content. On the one hand, evergreen content has compounding returns which are much higher than temporal content.

      On the other hand, video content represents 82% of all IP traffic. Marketers have already started and are expected to continue using video to personalize the marketing process for each buyer.

      All in all, experts believe LinkedIn will see one of the largest growth in brand and user engagement among social media networks and websites. In turn, this will provide a rich opportunity for brands to grow and leverage a presence.

      The famous “Alexa Voice Search” is also going through accelerated growth, offering new opportunities for marketers to build higher integration with both delivery services and ecommerce.

      Numbers speak for themselves, but there is only so much information we can gather right now. All we can do at the end of the day is to sit back and observe how things are going to develop in this billion-dollar industry.

      We hope you learned something new and are going to find this information useful in some way!

       




      Attention B2B Marketers: Why LinkedIn Rules

      Mike Orr, COO, Grapevine6

      With 650 million professional members, LinkedIn must be considered in any social marketing strategy. LinkedIn is often overlooked by marketers because its professional ‘personality’ does not lend itself to glitzy consumer campaigns that win awards and attract press coverage. As marketers we would be wise to explore the untapped potential of LinkedIn to drive revenue.

      The starting point in any marketing strategy is to think about the nature of your customer’s journey. It matters less who you sell to (businesses, consumers, or governments) and more how your customers experience your company. Is it a one-off experience (transactional) or is it a long-term relationship (relational)?

      Relational experiences in B2B is where LinkedIn shines brightest. In fact, LinkedIn is consistently ranked the number one source for B2B lead generation by marketers. The success of LinkedIn as a marketing platform is directly related to its success as a recruiting platform. Members are incented to complete detailed profiles to increase their attractiveness as potential job candidates. LinkedIn profiles give marketers an unparalleled ability to target a marketing message to a very specific professional audience, enabling ABM and other advanced marketing approaches.

      But limiting your thinking to advertising misses the big opportunity in relational businesses. Marketing needs to think beyond the buyer’s relationship with the brand page on LinkedIn. As buyers begin to engage with your company they’ll start to check out your company’s leadership team and research the profiles of the sales people with whom they come into contact. LinkedIn is the platform that sales professionals use most often to research buyers. Understand that this goes both ways. Modern buyers are also researching those who represent your company.

      Marcom teams need to help customer-facing employees, especially sales and executive leaders within your organization, project a professional brand image on LinkedIn, commensurate with that of your company. Instead of building one brand, marketers need to think about building hundreds or thousands of individual brands for those people who are in contact with your customer base. The common thread for all of those individual brands will be the content marcom produces. Marketing must get creative in producing and curating content that makes their customer-facing teams look smart.

      What content strategy will drive value in social? According to Forrester analyst Laura Ramos, buyers are looking for short content, ideally from credible sources, and reflecting peer experiences. These principles apply to B2B content generally, but are also useful when creating content for your teams. Our clients also find that sharing third party content along with branded content generates the highest engagement rates.

      When social marketing meets sales the result is a social selling program that produces the highest ROI for marketing spend. LinkedIn is B2B’s dominant network, hands down, as a gen source and ultimately as a revenue generator – Numbers don’t lie.  Case in point, SAP, a Grapevine6 client, attributes over two billion Euros in pipeline revenue to their LinkedIn social selling program!


      Mike OrrAbout the Author: Mike Orr co-founded Grapevine6 with four long-time friends to make content valuable to sales. They developed the G6 mobile app and content engagement platform that applies AI to accelerate sales and marketing efforts. Mike applied design thinking to develop an app that delivers relevant content for business professionals, in an easy-to-use experience. Before launching Grapevine6, Mike worked with the team that would eventually found Grapevine6 to create a martech startup that was acquired by Cundari. As the strategic leader of Cundari’s digital team, Mike’s work won a number of global awards including two Cannes Lions, a Fast Company Innovation by Design award and Best of the Best in World from MAAW (Marketing Agencies Association Worldwide). Mike earned a B.A.Sc. from UW and an MBA from Rotman.  Contact Mike at Morr@grapevine6.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeorr/

      Social Handles:

      Twitter: @mikeorr8

      Twitter: @Grapevine_6 

      LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeorr/

      LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/grapevine6-app/

       




      Memes Mean Business for B2B Marketers

      Aidan Paringer, Marketing Director, BNTouch CRM

      For many B2B marketers, there’s a feeling of dread that comes with trying out of the box ideas. After all, search, display and LinkedIn have typically been strong drivers of quantifiable results. This is particularly true in industries that are generally regarded as slow movers. By way of example, Geico and Progressive are trying their hardest to make insurance advertising memorable for consumers, but there’s no “Gecko” or “Flo” in the worker’s compensation insurance market.

      And maybe marketers are missing the point. 

      We’re all familiar with internet memes, from the deluge of “One does not simply…” images (based on Boromir in Lord of the Rings explaining that ‘One does not simply walk into Mordor’) to the usage of Kermit the Frog explaining it’s “none of [his] business.” However, very few B2B companies have made attempts to understand how memes can play a role in their marketing initiatives.

      With this in mind, the marketing team at BNTouch, a CRM platform that helps mortgage originators connect with their real estate broker partners, created a campaign to mirror the NCAA College basketball tournament; we launched March Memeness. The concept was simple, we’d post a new meme every business day, as a way to get our clients and prospects to smile a bit. Most of the images were created using common meme generators (you can find lots of options on Google).

      The results were impressive.

      On the social media side of things, our stats essentially doubled. Instagram follower count grew 160%, and our Twitter follower count also more than doubled as well. Organic daily reach on Facebook was also up more than 100%.

      • Perhaps more importantly, we saw dramatic upticks on web traffic as a result of the initiative. Organic web traffic was up 23% (driven by a 42% increase from social media traffic. Our quality leads measurement was also up more than 40%.

      Of course, this all leads to the question, “is this replicable?” 

      The answer is yes. However, to make it work, there are a few critical takeaways marketers can learn from our experiment.

      The first is that operating slightly out of your generally accepted industry-wide comfort zone  can have a profound impact. For BNTouch, that meant trying humor in an industry that’s generally seen as buttoned up and slow moving. The same effect can be used in any number of industries. In car insurance, Progressive and Geico have incorporated humor for years, perhaps the approach an insurer can take focused on the serious nature of being protected when it’s necessary. The important thing here is to zig when others are zagging.

      The second is that it will require consistency over time. For BNTouch, we created an image for every business day of the month. While a one-off image or .gif can “go viral,” it’s important to not rest your laurels on one positive result, and to realize that success builds upon itself.

      Finally, it’s important to understand what the results you garner mean for your business. Our web traffic from Instagram went up more than 220%, but overall leads from that platform were still below those we received from LinkedIn. This means that there might be a tremendous opportunity on Instagram for a B2B sales cycle, but that we need to remember LinkedIn as an important component of our approach.

      Make no mistake, March Memeness was incredibly fun for the team at BNTouch, but it also demonstrated how the willingness to go outside industry norms can have profound effects.

      Full results of March Memeness can be found at https://bntouch.com/mortgage-blog/mortgage-memes-grow-business/


      About the Author: Aidan Paringer is the Marketing Director at BNTouch CRM, the mortgage industry’s most feature rich growth platform, which operates as a standalone solution while seamlessly integrating into the day-to-day operations for enterprise, team and individual brokers. In the last two years, the company has worked with thousands of mortgage brokers, enabling them to close more than $43 billion in loans. BNTouch removes friction and increases agility in each touch point of a mortgage life cycle for customers, agents and regulators alike. For more information, visit www.bntouch.com