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The State of Content Marketing in 2015 (Infographic)

Nowadays, content marketing is defined as using or creating content that is not promotional but interesting and valuable in itself.

In other words, a piece of good content should be informative, appealing and fill the audience’s niche rather than being promotional or self-addressed. While whitepapers used to be one of the most popular content forms in 2013, 95% of modern customers always prefer shorter content formats.

Moreover, 41% of marketers confirm that content marketing has a positive return on investment. Buyers are most likely to share blog posts and infographics more than any other content form. Content is here to stay: no doubt about it. But how is content considered successful today, based on search engine ranking potential and real value-add to readers? Find the answer on the infographic below.

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Infographic credit: Expresswriters.

The Ultimate Content Marketing Checklist (Infographic)

Have you created a content marketing plan for your business?

Content marketing plan for professional business is more than writing an article on the company blog and sharing it up on your website. The best content marketing plan should covers a lot of planning, preparing, research, writing and editing until you get something that truly resonates with the audience you’re trying to reach.

To understand more about this topic, today we present a content marketing checklist that you might find useful when creating and promoting content for your business.

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Five B2B Content Mapping Tips For Professionals

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The growth of digital content has exploded, as B2B marketers have created 70% more content last year than they did the previous year, while 42% published new content multiple times per week.

The question we need to ask ourselves is do we really need new content everyday? It seems to me that many of us have fallen into this cycle of producing content as much content as possible. However, is this really the right approach?

Two reasons behind this “shotgun” approach are that most companies:

  • Don’t have a documented content strategy (only 35% of B2B marketers say that they have it documented)
  • Don’t manage content as a strategic asset (up to 70% of content is wasted each day and never repurposed again)

Wouldn’t it be so much more effective to create the right content for the right audience at the right time? Wouldn’t it be better to find ways to repurpose the content we have spent so much time creating rather than creating content haphazardly?

Having a documented content marketing strategy is key to ensuring the content you create is timely, relevant and targeted. Start with a simple content map. Creating a content map will help you align your brand and product stories with your buyer’s stages, the questions your prospects ask and their content needs and preferences. This is a logical process that is easy once you get it down on paper.

Here are five steps you can follow to get started with your own customised content map:

1. Define Your Buyer Stages

Think about how people buy from you and the stages they go through. Some companies start simple and only define three stages: Early, Mid, and Late Stage. Some companies look at as many as five stages: Interest > Learn > Evaluate > Justify > Purchase. At the end it depends on your buyers, the length of the buying cycle and how complex your process needs to be.

2. Develop Buyer Personas

When it comes to content, one size does not fit all. While a Marketing Manager of a small business and the CEO of a large enterprise might be on the same customer journey, their content needs are likely not the same. You need to identify your top purchase influencers and decision makers. These are your buyer personas. Once you have identified them, give them each a name. Describe who they are with as much detail as possible. Include things like what they fear, what motivates them and identify their goals and challenges. It’s always much easier to create content while having someone specific in mind.

3. Understand the Questions Your Personas Ask at Each Stage

Different personas will have different questions at each stage of their customer journey. The purpose of your content should be to answer those questions, so that your buyers can make informed decisions and naturally move through the funnel to the purchase stage. Here are some general questions buyers ask at each stage of their journey:

  • Interest: What is my problem?
  • Learn: How can I solve my problem?
  • Evaluate: Which solution is the best?
  • Justify: How do I justify my decision?
  • Purchase: How do I get started?

4. Answer Your Personas’ Questions

Start to align your brand or product stories with the questions your personas ask. Keep in mind what makes your story unique and what differentiates you from your competitors. You may want to start off by taking an inventory of your existing content and identify gaps. Acquire every little details that will help you to categorise your content so that you can easily find the right content for the right persona at the right stage.

5. Identify Preferred Content Types at Each Stage

Certain types of content work better at some stages than others. During the initial stages prospects are often more interested in informal types of content consumption like newsletters, infographics or videos – things they do not have to commit much time to. In the mid-stage, they are more interested in case studies or demos. Later in the cycle, when they are more committed to your products and services, they want detailed information, like product specifications and pricing and will spend much more time consuming your content.

Conclusion

Creating a content map is the first step to documenting your content strategy and calming the content chaos. As more content is being created each day, adding order to the process is critical. Your content will be most effective when it’s planned, produced and published for a specific persona. You’ll have content that will address your audiences’ needs during each stage of the buyer journey.

The Importance Of Data Makeover (Infographic)

If content is the king, then content curation is the queen.

Making great and informative content is not enough. Your content need to be appealing to attract more readers. Data by its very nature is dry and unappetising to us, visually-drive human beings. Learn how data visualisation can make it more palatable and meaningful in the following infographic.

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Infographic credit: Oracle.

“Real Time Marketing” Has Proven To Be Effective Method For Modern Content Campaign

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Have you ever considered taking advantage of breaking news on your social media channels? If not, you are certainly left behind the others.

A recent research from Wayin has revealed that 64% of real-time marketers have influenced breaking news on social media in the past year. The number increases to 78% for brands seeing an ROI of at least 50% on their real-time marketing investment, compared to only 57% for brands with an ROI of less than 50%.

“The best brand marketers no longer rely only on planned campaigns; they’re looking to social media to find real-time, consumer-generated moments to power more informed and engaging campaigns – and it’s paying off. Companies using the right technology to find and analyse these real-time moments and use them in a meaningful way are able to connect real-time efforts to overall marketing goals and greater revenue results” said Jordan Slabaugh, Wayin’s vice president of marketing.

Perhaps more important is that 98 percent of marketers report a positive impact to revenue from real-time marketing. There are obviously some significant challenges to real-time marketing of this nature, of course, but is it worth the investment? The answer lies in you.

10 Types Of Marvelous Visual Content You Need To Know (Infographic)

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The major impact on general audience comes from the visual message that you are conveying, not the actual text of the content itself.

It’s a common knowledge that people respond differently to what they see visually rather than what they think they need to engage with. Knowing this can be an important consideration to achieve your marketing goals with the marketing tactics and strategy that you will be executing. If your end goal is to get sales, a humourous advertisement may get people talking about your product. However, it may not transfer into continuous sales. On the other hand, a visually appealing picture without a captivating call to action can make the campaign suffer.

For more detailed information, please take a look at the following infographic:

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Infographic credit: Canva

Five Top Companies That Successfully Fabricate Genuine And Dynamic Content

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Numerous brand publishers use data to create unique pieces of content. Often this data comes from outside sources: research firms, public institutions, big data companies, etc. Still, what about all the fascinating data you have within your own company?

Brands can now track and collect data to answer all sorts of questions, but most of the time these questions are directed internally: “How many people are using are service? How can we leverage our data to optimise our services boost our revenue?” More often than not, there are other fascinating questions you can answer that’ll appeal to the larger public and help you create the kind of valuable—and perhaps most importantly, exclusive—content that separates you from the pack.

But gathering this kind of data is only the first step. The tricky part is figuring out how to pull out the meaningful stories lurking beneath the charts and numbers. Here are five brands that are successfully incorporating their company data into an enjoyable content.

1. Zillow

With data on over 110 million homes in their database, Zillow has access to a lot of data on the real estate market. The information they gather includes a home’s value estimates, square footage, nearby amenities, and even aerial photographs. Though Zillow uses this data for their online marketplace, they’ve also started to re-purpose it for creating original content.

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While most of the data-driven posts take a conventional approach, such as their mortgage rate reports and pieces like “Where Can Millenials Afford to Buy Homes?,” Zillow is not afraid to find fun in their data. For instance, the piece “10 Best Cities For Love This Valentine’s Day” lists the best U.S. cities for finding a date based on each city’s percentage of singles, the median disposable income of those singles, and the number of date spots per capita. Another piece, “Best Cities for Black Friday Price Cuts,” ranked the top 10 cities with the biggest price cuts for homes.

Zillow also takes data-driven content a step further by publishing their own branded book, “Zillow Talk: The New Rules of Real Estate,” which debuted at number two on the New York Times bestseller list. The book takes a Freakonomics-like approach to real estate by sharing unexpected findings based on Zillow’s gathered data and original research.

Among these findings include the “Starbucks Effect,” which demonstrated that homes within a quarter-mile of a Starbucks increased in value, as well as the 15 keywords that help increase the selling price of a home. The New York Times also ran an excerpt from “Zillow Talk” as an opinion piece with an interactive infographic that helps users find out how their street name affects the value of their home.

2. Jawbone

Jawbone is the company behind UP, a wearable tech product that helps users track their diet, movement, sleep, fitness, and other habits—all of which are done 24/7. Considering all the personal data Jawbone can data, it’s not surprising that their blog is filled with stories about user behavior, often told via interactive infographics.

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Their most popular story so far is about how UP users in the Bay Area were affected by the South Napa Earthquake. According to the analysis from Jawbone’s data scientists, most UP users close to the epicenter woke up when the earthquake struck, and 45 percent of those who woke up stayed awake throughout the night. Another sleep-related story shows a whole year’s sleep disruptions among more than a million UP users in 11 countries. The study confirms what most of us know intuitively: Holidays, sports events, and Daylight Saving Time mess up our internal clocks.

However, Jawbone’s best stories aren’t just about sleep: They also cover fitness and dietary topics, as seen in their posts about how people eat differently during Valentine’s Day and the Super Bowl, and which weight loss techniques are most effective for UP users. With Jawbone’s data-driven stories, we’re not just seeing examples of good content marketing—we’re also learning surprising things about human behavior.

3. Litmus

Litmus is an email testing and analytics tool that helps users gain valuable insights on their email marketing campaigns, such as how many subscribers read an email vs. merely open it, which email tools subscribers use, and the email behaviors of individual subscribers.

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This March, Litmus released their 2015 State of Email report, which featured data on how email open rates changed across platforms and listed the top 10 email clients with the largest market share. Litmus doesn’t wait for yearly special reports to share their gathered data, which is often included in the tutorial posts on their blog when relevant. Litmus has also occasionally shared behind-the-scenes data on their company, including how well their own email marketing efforts worked in 2012, and their company-wide performance stats for 2013.

Since 2008, Litmus has been sharing regular email client market share reports, often posting updates on their blog every month. Now, a top five list is a permanent feature on their blog’s sidebar, and leads to a separate site that has a more detailed, interactive leaderboard.

4. Kaspersky Lab

Through a stunning interactive 3D globe, security software company Kaspersky Lab displays cyber threats occurring in real time all over the world. The project, called the Cyber threat Map, uses data from Kaspersky’s infrastructure to show users the prevalence of threats such as viruses, spam, and network intrusions. Users can even explore data from individual countries to see more detailed statistics and watch as cyber threats are detected in real time. This game-like display gives users a chance to walk in the shoes of a cyber security expert for a few minutes.

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Two months after the Cyber threat Map launched in April last year, it received a “Cutting Edge Project of the Week” award from Adobe and The FWA (Favourite Website Awards). Despite its bells and whistles, the Cyber threat Map is just a small part in Kaspersky Lab’s efforts to increase public awareness about cyber security. Their blog, Kaspersky Lab Daily, often features infographics and guides that include data gathered by the company. Kaspersky Lab’s real-time cybersecurity statistics dashboard, Cyberstat, has embeddable and shareable counters that display real time statistics about the number of cyber attacks, detected adware, hacked websites, and other security-related data.

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5. Groove

“Transparency blogging” is a thriving genre among startup blogs. Startups like Buffer, Slack, and Hubstaff post detailed metrics about their revenue, users, and marketing efforts. For this list, we’re focusing on Groove, a helpdesk software provider for businesses.

What makes Groove stand out is their take on transparency. Founder Alex Turnbull wrote in a recent blog post, “Transparency is a great tool that I’d recommend to anyone, but it’s not enough on its own.” In other words, it’s not the numbers and metrics per se that make transparency work—it’s about the value, insights, and stories that you bring to your readers.

In one example, Groove shares the many different metrics they use to track customer success and what their current numbers are for those metrics. This post doesn’t just reveal a list of conversion rates and churn rates, it also shares the decision-making process behind those metrics and the role they play in keeping customers happy and engaged. In another post, readers get a behind-the-scenes look at how Groove tested different pricing models—increasing their revenue by 25% as a result.

Despite these varied stories, there’s often a bigger story that Groove tries to tell with their metrics. Most recently, it’s the story of how they are going to reach their goal of earning $500,000 of monthly revenue. This means that even if you follow posts about different aspects of their business, there’s a primary narrative to return to.

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The key takeaway that we can learn from Groove and the other “transparency bloggers” is that “Big Data” isn’t a must-have for telling compelling stories. Even your everyday metrics can make a difference as long as you’re providing something interesting and valuable for your audience.

As for bigger brands that have millions of data sets to draw their insights from, such as Zillow and Kaspersky Lab, the challenge is wading through all those numbers to find the few that would matter the most to your audience.

Five Main Reasons Why Your Content Doesn’t Go Viral (Infographic)

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Going Viral? Why Not?

All content creators want their content to go viral. Sadly, it’s not an easy task to do.

Think about it for a moment: if making viral content is so easy, why can’t all the content in the world become viral?

Creating “positive” and successful viral content is not easy. It needs continuous study, dedication, experimentation and numerous trial-and-error processes.

Without question, remarkable content is one of the primary requirements to make content go viral. However, if you think that your content is good enough but it hasn’t gone viral, there must be something wrong with it. In today’s infographic, The Website Marketing Group will cover five main reasons why content doesn’t go viral, even when you think it has exceptional quality.  By avoiding these mistakes, we hope your content can have a better chance to go viral.

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Six Indications You Are Doing A Terrific Job at Content Marketing

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Dear social marketers, have you connected with shoppers effectively?

During its first release, it seems like the QR code would solve all of your problems in terms of connecting with individuals on the path to purchase, plus reduce the need to pay the major grocers handsomely for in-store marketing? Still, QR codes rapidly dwindled into an underwhelming weapon, delivering a branded video at best, or a corporate website at worst.

As smartphone penetration rose, digital shopper marketing was born. With it, we saw virtual shops, branded applications, mobile commerce and proximity transmitters like iBeacon, each claiming to revolutionise the shopping journey and create a seamless omni-channel experience.

So, are you connecting with shoppers effectively? Here are some pointers you can follow to find out.

1. Shopper insights are necessary to encourage tech use

The trouble with the way brands used new technology platforms like QR codes was their failure to speak to a definitive shopper insight. They weren’t solving a genuine customer problem. Did people really want to order a litre of milk while waiting for the bus?

Did they really feel the instant need to download an app so they could be served a sales message based on their proximity to the frozen pizzas?

2. Customers need to be convinced, not sold

The second problem was the focus on the technology, not on the content. If your content has inherent value to your target audience, you reduce your risk of disappointing users and wasting existing and future brand lovers’ time.

As most brand-love research points out – the shoppers of today are only interested in brands that can offer utility, value or fun. There is no point in investing in Oculus Rift technology if the quality of the experience is neither relevant nor inspirational enough to change the behaviour of your target market.

3. Retailers will set both the agenda and the opportunity for brands

Retailers will control how brands can partner with communication flow and associated technology enablers in their own stores. With many iBeacon tests in pilot, it’s clear how a brand like a Woolworths can test and exploit opportunities from category management, creating richer, deeper shopping experiences to driving value, offers and promotions.

With mobile payments becoming more of a reality, it’s easy to imagine an experience that’s seamless in integrating loyalty rewards with targeted offers through basket IQ. The tech will be barely noticeable. New retail needs to be borderless and beyond channel. In store, retailers still hold the reins.

4. E-commerce has inspired in-store shopping

When the first e-commerce platforms launched, shopping was pretty basic: based largely on an expectation that people knew what they wanted through basic search functionality. As online shopping became a huge data play, cross sell, suggested sell, incentives, VIP areas, personalised services, 360° views enabling mouse touch-and-zoom and video catwalks all followed, providing a more rounded ‘instant’ experience right there in your home.

Australian e-commerce site Stylematch is adopting a new way to leverage content aggregation and curation to drive purchase. The platform aggregates more than 6,000 brands including ASOS, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, David Jones and Topshop. Stylematch has become the first website to implement the new Shopspots developed by Stackla. Shopspots allows retailers to take user-generated images from social media and tag the products. We can expect more ‘socially powered’ shopping baskets in the future.

5. Content encourages more purchasing

Editorial and magazine-style approaches to shopping have never more popular within fashion retail. If you look what Net-A-Porter, ASOS and, more recently, Supré are doing, you can see that content is making spontaneous shoppers shop. With so much choice, it’s nice to be guided and inspired to shop, rather than wade through infinite virtual warehouses.

Take the humble recipe, which was has succeeded in driving sales in interesting ways since 1904 – not just by tapping into seasonal events, food trends and across categories, but by creating demand. Those from the UK may remember when Nigella spurred an overnight goose fat stampede in the aisles, just as Heston’s Christmas Pudding did here in Coles. Those in New Zealand will surely remember Marmageddon. Brand storytelling rarely gets better than when faced with influence, supply and demand.

6. Retailers need to build a genuine relationship

Brands are now looking for new ways to connect, rather than simply interrupt. Knowing your audience is more important than ever. And while serving relevant and timely content is hardly a new thought, distribution channels continue to multiply and evolve.

Hence our obsession with tech continues, just as it did with the QR code, as we look to how existing and new platforms can help inspire the modern-day shopper.

Four Simple Steps To Implement Design Thinking Into Your Content Strategy

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Do you want to create a successful and stable content strategy? Then you need to consider about design thinking.

Despite its name, “design thinking” has little to do with slick fonts or pretty color palettes. The process was popularized by David Kelley, the co-founder of IDEO, an innovation consultancy known for producing a parade of groundbreaking inventions, such as the portable heart defibrillator.

Companies from Airbnb to Pfizer use design thinking to discover and address customer needs through five simple steps:

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The approach focuses on the end user—think fewer spreadsheets, more conversations with real live humans.

Do you want to apply design thinking approach for your next content campaign strategy? Here are four simple steps you can try right away.

1. Treat your content like a product

Many companies decide what users want without bothering to investigate their needs and behaviors. In fact, only 27 percent of businesses have a strategy governing their content creation. This “exclusive” approach to planning and creating content is a dangerous mistake. Audiences are sophisticated, and every publisher on the Internet is vying for their attention. By treating your articles, videos, and podcasts with as much importance as the widgets you sell, you can use design thinking to create meaningful content your audience will be excited to return to over and over again.

2. Empathise

Figuring out what your audience truly needs doesn’t begin and end with a few questions on a survey. You have to go into the field to observe and interact with real humans.

While it’s impossible to hang out with your users in their apartments and cubicles, you can observe how they’re behaving online:

  • Listen in on social media. What kind of articles are already popular with your audience? Use BuzzSumo, for example, to find out which stories about a certain keyword were shared the most on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn. What questions are your prospective users asking each other about your industry? Q&A sites like Quora are your oracle.
  • Have lunch with Brad from sales. It’s common for strategists to overlook their company’s sales and customer service departments. That’s a shame because these are the people who interact with real users all day. Find out what questions customers ask them the most. Your content should provide answers.
  • Mine your old content for clues. If you’ve set up engagement metrics on your site, find out what articles or videos your users spend the most time reading and watching. Which ones receive the most comments? Which e-books are downloaded the most?

3. Get to the heart of your story

At the “define” stage of design thinking, your mission is to distill your scattered findings into a meaningful narrative about your customer via a “problem statement” or point of view. After observing and interacting with your audience, think about what you learned. What stood out? What was surprising? Did any patterns emerge? Formulate these needs into a problem statement beginning with the phrase, “How might we…”

4. Brainstorm, build, and test

Once you’ve identified an existing need to fill for your audience, it’s time to move on to step three: ideate. Many companies jump straight to this stage because, well, it’s fun. However, after putting in the effort to study your users, you’ll have a much deeper understanding of who you’re designing for—which gives your brainstorming session a clear direction.