Content Marketing in Australia 2015 – Are you creating content worth sharing?

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At a recent event hosted by Livefyre, Neal Mann, digital strategist for News Corp Australia posed a challenging question – would you share the last piece of content that you created? Answering his own question, Neal revealed the single largest challenge facing Australian brands and marketers using content marketing as part of their strategy:

Most people don’t say yes. They don’t. Because they’ve not actually created [content] to engage an audience, they’ve created it to get it out the door … It’s worth highlighting engagement on Facebook and marketing. There’s a big difference between paying for engagement which is kind of the initial stages of what happened with social. Now, if you look at the US brands in particular that are notoriously in news, they’re creating content that’s cool.

The Pepsi Max test drive pranks, for example, saw widespread engagement, with some of the videos – like the one below – delivering over 40 million views (and counting). And the Pepsi YouTube channel has also grown as a branded media channel with over 729,000 subscribers.

But this kind of content is rarely being produced here in Australia. There is sill a focus on buying engagement rather than producing engaging content – material and media that are worth sharing.

The release of the Content Marketing Institute – ADMA benchmark report for 2015, seems to provide at least some of the answers to why this might be the case. Presenting the findings from over 250 Australian marketers, the report shows:

  • Content marketing effectiveness is lagging: Only 29% of marketers consider their companies effective at content marketing – though this extends to 44% where there is a documented content marketing strategy in place
  • Marketers need to commit and plan content marketing: Only 37% of the respondents indicated that they have documented content marketing strategies in place. A further 46% indicated that there is an undocumented strategy
  • A disconnect between demand generation and marketing: With 60% of marketers indicating that web traffic is a measure of success for content marketing, sales lead quality languishes at 29% with customer renewal rates at 19%.

Interestingly, the report also reveals that 63% of marketers intend to increase their content marketing budget in 2015. And with this in mind there are some key activities that marketers can work immediately:

  • Develop and document a content marketing strategy: Unless a strategy is clear in the minds of the marketers, agencies and suppliers – as well as the business management – it’s almost impossible to track effectiveness. For assistance in developing your content marketing strategy, reach out to us here
  • Measure and innovate to improve effectiveness: Once you have a strategy, you need to stick to it. Simple frameworks and dashboards can help you measure what works, change what doesn’t and consistently improve over time
  • Commit to creating content worth sharing: Almost every business has employees who are also customers. If you can’t encourage your own employees to share your content with their friends, family and business networks, then you need to reassess your creative approach. It’s time to invest in creative rather than paid media.

As Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute says:

There are two critical factors that differentiate effective content marketers over the rest of the pack – having a documented content marketing strategy and following it very closely. Those two things make all the difference.

And with budgets under scrutiny and competition fierce, it may be time to reach out for assistance. After all, isn’t it time that you started making content that you are proud of? You know it is.

Trust is Up for Financial Services’ Connected Consumers

Trust is Up for Financial Services

While the retail sector continues to flounder, the Financial Services industry seems to finally have cottoned on to the digital business opportunity presented by social media.  A new report published by ING shows that frequent social media users (ie that lucrative and market-making early adopter segment) view social media as being as reliable as other online media.

Moreover, social media goes beyond simple information dissemination. The report indicates that “financial information posted on social media changes opinions, preferences or behaviour more often”. Clearly, as we have noted previously, our connected consumers are discovering, debating and deciding what to purchase and when independently of our marketing funnel.

Financial services leaders will increasingly need to develop and execute strategies that reach, engage and transform their relationships with their connected consumers. The impact has been felt in 2012, but the power will grow through 2013. Is your company ready?

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Want SEO? Create Useful Content First

There was a time when we used to create websites to solve a problem. Now, often, our websites are the problems that need to be solved. They no longer tell the story we want to tell. They don’t engage the people that they should. They aren’t relevant to the communities we claim to serve.

To solve this new problem, we often turn to search engine optimisation (SEO). What we are looking for is a quick fix. The problem, of course, is that you can’t quick fix bad content.

My recommendation is always to focus on useful content. Make sure that what you are creating helps the people who need it. Make sure that it reaches them in a format that is easy for them to consume. And design it so that it can be shared with others who have the same challenges.

Sounds simple, right?

But, don’t take my word for it. Check out what the folks at Brafton have to say in this funky content marketing for SEO infographic. Then stop looking for silver bullets and get to work on some quality content. Your customers will love you for it.

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Australian Consumer Online Experience: Earned Media Wins

Right about now, most marketers will be starting to set their budgets for next year. We are looking at what worked this year, what didn’t, and thinking about how we can capitalise on the positive momentum and new product/feature launches that are planned for 2010. For some this means buying media. For others it means looking at earned media.

One of the very first things I do is to look at where my customers are playing. And by “playing”, I mean, where do they spend their time. How do they break down their days? I am looking for an understanding of their BEHAVIOUR. I am looking for opportunities to ENGAGE, not chances to interrupt. I’m seeking participation.

For me, it starts with data. I feed this into my continuous digital strategy process (regardless of whether it is digital or not). I look at the Google Trends data and I cross pollinate it with my own web analytics information. What do I see? I see the phenomenon that Ian Lyons is seeing. On the Datalicious blog, Ian suggests that Australian Brand Sites are Losing to the Social Web:

    1. We are hanging out in social sites where relevant content finds us through our friends rather than searching out brands
    2. Content is being pushed off-site through mechanisms such as RSS Feeds, Twitter, YouTube Channels and Facebook Fan pages

Google Trends for Australian Media Properties

Ian shares a number of graphs to to demonstrate (take a good look at the post for more), but this one above clearly shows a significant fall in the number of daily unique visitors to all Australian online media properties. The most dramatic fall belongs to NineMSN.com.au. The important thing to remember with this, is that consumers haven’t suddenly lost half of their time or attention – they are shifting attention (their precious resource) to other places. And clearly consumer behaviour is not shifting to brands or even brand websites – it’s shifting to our friends, connections and family – online.

Google Trends for SNS

Facebook is the big winner. It’s winning because the future of your brand is social. It is winning because the decisions we make are now social. And as consumer behaviour and action continues to shift, as people continue to rely on social judgement as a means of filtering the thousands of advertising and branded messages they encounter each day, brands are going to struggle to remain relevant or even interesting.

It’s time to think about what I call the Auchterlonie Effect. It’s time, as Ian suggests, for brands to think of themselves as (niche) publishers. And it’s time to think about shifting that media budget of yours away from SPENDING and into INVESTMENT. Remember, on the web, content lasts forever. Use that insight to your advantage!

Paid or Earned Media – Making Gravity is Hard Work

Whether you are walking down the street, watching the TV, surfing the net or even driving a car, you are the subject of some form of advertising. From the branded cap on the boy walking down the street to the billboard behind him – marketing is hard at work trying to capture your attention. Constance Hill and Bruce Henry suggest that we see around 3000 marketing messages each day. But no matter whether we see 100 or 10,000 messages – clearly we are exposed to a significant number. But how many do you recall? How many seep into your unconscious, adding a negative or positive neuron to your thoughts around these brands?

Now, add into this mix the dozens or even hundreds of blogs that you read and the tweets that you view on Twitter each day. Combine this with podcasts, music streams via blip.fm, videos on YouTube and email – and suddenly you have an abundant media stream that can appear overwhelming. As Sean Howard says, “In today's world everyone is a publisher, everyone has some level of influence, and everyone has a network of influence that is difficult to define let alone measure”. It makes the life of the media consumer rather complex.

As a marketer, however, you do have a specific objective. What you are aiming for is MAKING GRAVITY. With paid media you are using your marketing budget to have your content inserted into spaces that your audience inhabit. It is an expense which you measure in terms of how many people you have reached with your communication.

Earned media (or what Craig Wilson calls engagement marketing), on the other hand, is both different in nature and in measurement. Rather than being an expense, it is an investment. Its effectiveness is directly related to what you DO rather than what you SAY, and the value that is exchanged is not currency, but trust. As I have explained previously – it is about changing behaviours:

Every time we forward on a link, retweet a message read on Twitter or any other type of social network interaction, we are CHOOSING to act. We are not just using our network of connections to FILTER the noise, we are using it to SHAPE our experience. It is a choice. And understanding this distinction places us in a context where STORYTELLING emerges as vitally important?

Paid media has been an effective marketing approach for hundreds of years (if not longer). But it thrived in a time where attention was abundant and our media consumption choices were limited to a set number of channels. These days, media is abundant but our attention (and maybe more importantly, our respect) is scarce. Graham Brown has an excellent five minute piece on the challenges presented by these changes.

But the fundamental difference with paid vs earned media is the refocusing of effort. No longer do you spend your creative energies (and budgets) on producing executions that gain attention – you spend it on building trust and creating Auchterlonie Effects (stories that can be easily shared). Indeed, in the best traditions of storytelling, earned media propagates itself – becoming promiscuous in the process.

The reason that promiscuous ideas are important to your brand is that you WANT them to be shared. In social media, every shared idea, link or concept creates an exchange of value within a PERSONAL network – so the act of sharing is a recommendation of sorts. Over time the person who “adds value” to their network builds an abundant store of social capital. It is like branding – we can’t necessarily point to a PARTICULAR item – but to the recurring and ongoing sense of positive exchange relating to that person.

When YOUR brand story or content is the subject of that exchange, you are effectively providing a reason for connection between people in a network. And as these connections grow, as they are passed from person to person, you are creating points of gravity around your brand ecosystem. Your challenge then is to work with a continuous digital strategy to “share the message” but “own the destination”. The thing is, gravity can only be earned. And while you can employ paid media to complement your earned media – you need to make sure you have a compelling story to tell and to share.