Archive for April, 2012

Email still most common method of sharing content, study finds

April 28, 2012

But email marketers should segment content to increase relevance and add value to recipients…

by Brian Oliver

Despite the enormous popularity of social media tools such as Facebook and Pinterest, a recent study conducted by StumbleUpon and BuzzFeed found that email is still the most-used method of sharing content.

Trying to make articles or videos ‘go viral’ by hoping to get thousands of followers to click on a single link is unrealistic, the study found.

Instead, people are more likely to spread content that resonates with them by distributing one-on-one email ‘shares’ among smaller and more intimate groups of colleagues, friends and family.

The StumbleUpon/BuzzFeed study looked at how content is shared online by analysing the 50 stories that have received the most Facebook traffic since mid-2007. Findings showed that for every Facebook share only nine people actually visited the story.

This suggests that even the biggest stories on Facebook are propagated by intimate conversations within a single network – for example, by large numbers of individuals sharing personally with a small number of friends, rather than by content being ‘broadcast’ through a few ‘influencers’ sharing a single post or tweet and hundreds of thousands of people clicking on it.


While influential people may be able to reach a wide audience, their impact is short-lived, the StumbleUpon/BuzzFeed study found. Content goes viral when it spreads beyond a particular sphere of influence and spreads across the social web via ordinary people sharing with their friends.

“If you think about the course of a day, you spend the most amount of time communicating through email,” says Jack Krawczyk, StumbleUpon’s senior marketing manager. He points out that such ‘intimate sharing’ outnumbers so-called ‘broadcasting’ by 2-to-1 on StumbleUpon.

“People still want to have that intimate conversation,” says Krawczyk, adding that this also applies to young adults who are usually seen as relying on social media tools to communicate. “Those 34 and younger are the ones sharing emails,” he says. “They want that direct line of communications.”

Separate research from cloud-based firm Act-On Software warns that many companies are failing to take full advantage of the continuing importance of email content marketing as a customer acquisition tool.

Although opt-in email marketing is increasingly being integrated with social media platforms, the Act-On study found that many marketers are still making the common mistake of sending a single message to everyone on their mailing list.

Marketers should be segmenting and tailoring their email content to make sure the information that each customer receives is relevant to their needs and adds value.

Email marketers should also make sure their content does not contain any errors, the Act-On study warns. Poor quality writing within email content – with bad grammar, spelling mistakes and factual errors – can have a negative impact on a recipient’s view of the company.  

(Image via Clkr)  

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About the author:

Brian Oliver is a business journalist and the MD and founder of UK strategic communications consultancy Focus Marketing Communications.


CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing


Outsourcing of content marketing set to increase this year, says report

April 20, 2012

by Brian Oliver

Seventy percent of companies plan to outsource at least part of their content marketing in the next 12 months, according to a new Digital Content Marketing Survey commissioned by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and branding agency Brandpoint.

This follows CMI research earlier this year which revealed that 62% of companies are already using third-party expertise to strengthen their content marketing activities (compared with 55% in 2011).

The 2012 Digital Content Marketing report – based on a Readex Research survey of nearly 400 ‘marketing decision-makers’ – found that 99% of respondents had recently used some form of content marketing.

And what these companies are looking for in a third-party content provider, says the report, is the ability to deliver “engaging and creative storytelling”, “custom content”, and “professional-level writing”.


Industry observers believe the shift toward using external content providers is being fuelled by the growing importance of publishing well-written content on a regular and sustained basis.  Many companies, it seems, are finding they don’t have enough time, expertise and resources to achieve this in-house.

They also recognise that poor quality writing – with bad grammar, spelling mistakes and factual errors – can have a negative impact on their brand’s reputation. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam Team, recently warned that sites with frequent content errors tend to have lower rankings in search results.

As Contented Marketer recently reported (“Frequent publishing helps to improve ROI”), the ability to publish quality content on a regular basis is a key factor in maximising investment in content marketing campaigns. At the same time, Google is now upgrading the page-rankings of websites that deliver high-quality content that people want to read and share (see “Google updates making quality content dominant factor in SEO”).


The new Digital Content Marketing Survey found that video is the type of content that marketers are most likely to outsource, followed by infographics, online articles, digital white papers, e-books and blogging.

Only 18% of the marketers surveyed cited cost as the deciding factor when choosing whether or not to outsource content marketing. Eighty percent stated they were happy to pay a little extra for the added value of well-crafted, customised and professionally-written material.


Social content, blogging, press releases and online articles are the forms of content used most often, says the report, with marketers finding that social content, e-newsletters and blogging provide the best results.


Eighty two percent of respondents said it is more important for their website and blog copy to be written for people rather than search engines – with SEO expertise ranked fifth among the list of 11 qualities marketers want in a content provider.

Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, said: “This survey affirms that marketing pros are embracing the value of online marketing, but they also acknowledge the need to stay true to certain fundamentals. Quality continues to be a key requirement for success across all forms of content marketing.”

He added: “While the Internet continues to revolutionise the way we all do business, the need to tell a clear compelling story through our marketing efforts remains constant.”

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About the author:

Brian Oliver is a business journalist and the MD and founder of UK strategic communications consultancy Focus Marketing Communications.


CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

New LinkedIn ‘Follow’ button helping B2B content marketers

April 11, 2012

The recent rollout of LinkedIn’s new ‘Follow Company’ button is making it easier for content marketers to target and engage with B2B audiences that are already using LinkedIn.

This appears to support the view that, while Facebook is great for B2C marketing, LinkedIn can work better for B2B. LinkedIn claims to have over two million companies in its network, representing all industries and company sizes.

Just like Facebook’s ‘Like’ button and Twitter’s ‘Follow’ button, you can now add the LinkedIn ‘Follow’ badge to your company website – making it easier for businesses or individuals to begin following your company’s LinkedIn page with just one click. There is no need for them to navigate to the LinkedIn website.

As LinkedIn’s Mike Grishaver explains: “Companies can engage with people from their Company Page on LinkedIn and through status updates. It’s a great and easy way to gain insights and stay connected.”

According to LinkedIn, the ‘Follow’ button is already being used by companies such as Starbucks, AT&T, Sony Electronics and American Express.


In a recent study of over 5,000 businesses, integrated marketing solutions company HubSpot found that traffic from LinkedIn generated the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate at 2.74% – almost three times higher than both Twitter (.69%) and Facebook (.77%).

This suggests that increasing your reach on LinkedIn through quality content is not only likely to boost your website’s LinkedIn referral traffic, but can also lead to an increase in sales leads because of the higher conversion rate of LinkedIn traffic.


LinkedIn has also announced plans to roll out two new functions – ‘Targeted Updates’ and ‘Follower Statistics’ – which have been designed for companies that have followers on the network. Initial users will include AT&T, Samsung Mobile, Dell and Microsoft.

The ‘Targeted Updates’ function will allow companies to segment their followers by a range of variables such as industry, seniority, job function, company size, non-company employees, and geography. LinkedIn says this will enable companies to send different content and status updates to different groups of followers.

The ‘Follower Statistics’ product will be an analytics dashboard that allows companies to see how effective their updates have been.

According to LinkedIn, the new tools are all about “driving media efficiency” and helping marketers to create “direct and lasting relationships with their audience”.

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Here’s a video showing how businesses or individuals can follow a company on LinkedIn …


CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing

More than 90% of B2B buyers influenced by content marketing

April 7, 2012

by Brian Oliver

A new study by DemandGen, an emedia publication that focuses on B2B sales strategies and solutions, has found that more than 90% of B2B purchase decisions start with exposure to some form of content marketing material.

The report also found that over 40% of B2B buyers often learn about a supplier’s products or services for the first time by downloading content from their website.

This highlights the growing importance of a content strategy that includes the provision of helpful downloadable material – such as white papers, case studies and eGuides – to demonstrate the value of a company’s products or services.


The study’s findings show that optimised content-led marketing is becoming an increasingly critical tool for many B2B companies. It suggests that companies that guide prospects through the ‘conversion funnel’ with engaging and relevant content are more likely to be successful in generating qualified sales leads.

This is in line with a recent study by integrated marketing solutions company HubSpot which found that some 25% of businesses that use content marketing now find it essential.

“Research has shown that engaging content is critical to supporting an inbound marketing strategy and helping companies get found,” says Jeanne Hopkins, director of marketing at HubSpot.

She adds: “Progressive marketers are realising that content also plays a key role in advancing prospects from the middle of the funnel to closed deals by nurturing and educating buyers with information that speaks directly to their needs at different stages.”


The DemandGen Report also recognised that B2B companies often find it difficult to create and sustain effective content without outside help, such as independent content writing services.

“As these trends emerge, B2B marketers continue to struggle to keep pace with content development, content marketing strategies and how to utilise content to drive demand,” says DemandGen Report editor Andrew Gaffney.

Industry expert Jon Wuebben, CEO of ContentLaunch, believes this is one reason why we’re seeing the growth of agencies that specialise in the strategic planning, creation, distribution and curation of customer-focused content. In his latest book, Content Is Currency: Developing Powerful Content for Web & Mobile, Wuebben insists that the content marketing agency is now replacing the traditional ad agency for many companies.

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About the author:

Brian Oliver is a business journalist and the MD and founder of UK strategic communications consultancy Focus Marketing Communications.


CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing


Video content marketing helps to increase online sales conversions, says new report

April 1, 2012

Using original videos in content marketing is one of the best ways of driving customer engagement and increasing online sales conversions – that’s according to new research conducted jointly by comScore Inc, a leader in measuring the digital world, and online video distribution network EXPO.

The report found that more than half of the people surveyed gained a better understanding of marketing messages when they were presented in the form of a video – with around 80% of them finding videos easy to relate to, and more than 80% stating that videos give them a better understanding of the importance of key messages.

The study measured a series of indicators and found that professionally-produced video content and user-generated product videos can both help to drive higher levels of sales effectiveness. However, branded video content is regarded as better at conveying features and benefits, while user-generated videos are seen as more trustworthy when it comes to dealing with product claims.


Frank Findley, comScore’s vice president of research and development, said: “While marketers may already be familiar with the effectiveness of professional video content alone, these results suggest that even greater returns can be had by combining their use with authentic, user-generated content.”

Jessica Thorpe, vice president of marketing at EXPO, said: “We found that consumers perceived feature benefits as more believable when coming directly from the brand through professionally-produced content, while the unbiased user-gen videos were more believable in verifying specific product claims, such as superiority and convenience.”

She added: “When used together, all of the perceived gaps get filled in and consumers become more confident in their purchase decision, resulting in better sales effectiveness.” 

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(Image via Clker)


CONTENTED MARKETER Magazine is brought to you by content marketing specialist Focus Content Marketing

Visit our website at: Focus Content Marketing