Must Love Dogs, and Other Content Marketing Advice

Content Marketing is a lot like dating. If you create your dating profile based on what you think potential life mates might be interested in, but don’t accurately reflect who you really are, then your first date will probably be a short one.

Content Marketing is a lot like dating.

If you create your dating profile based on what you think potential life mates might be interested in, but don’t accurately reflect who you really are, then your first date will probably be a short one.

After all, if you’re an active sports enthusiast who loves dogs and isn’t afraid to speak your mind, then why would you pretend to be otherwise? Do you think that nobody will wink at you online if you’re honest about yourself? Do you think “tricking” someone into asking you out has the possibility of turning into a long term relationship?

Many businesses continue to get poor results for their content marketing efforts because they’re attempting to be something that they’re not. When Google’s algorithm discovers that your content has a lot of bounces because it does NOT really answer a Google inquiry on a topic, your search result gets moved to the back of the pack. There’s no “gaming” the system by stuffing keywords in your meta tag—Google is simply trying to figure out what a page is all about so they can serve up an authentic answer to the search inquiry.

I keep going back to the story about Marcus Sheridan, the pool company owner who started writing a blog based on answering their customers’ questions. As a result, his pool company is thriving and his website gets more traffic than any other pool company site in the world—and Marcus started an online consulting business to help other companies achieve similar results.

The secret to his success? Answering every single question a consumer could possibly have about buying a fiberglass pool in a frank and personable way. Now when a consumer asks Google a question about fiberglass pools, Marcus’ site is at the top of the organic search results because web traffic clicks and time spent on his site tell Google that his answers are the most “helpful” and relevant to the question being asked. Marcus gets an “A” for Content Marketing.

But why do most businesses still get an “F” for their attempts??

Primarily because they’re afraid: Afraid to answer questions honestly out of fear that it might make their product or service look bad; Afraid that they won’t look like they know what they’re talking about; Afraid that the competition will read their content and “steal” their answers or ideas; Afraid that someone will read their content then shop elsewhere to find the same solution… Only cheaper.

But Marcus wasn’t afraid. He had deep experience in the pool business, and was happy to share it with anyone who asked. He knew that by demonstrating his knowledge he would attract more inquiries, interest and referrals, because at the end of the day, we all love to do business with people who know what they’re talking about—people who give us confidence because we know we’ve made the right decision by purchasing from an expert.

I recently read a great quote from Phil Darby—a pioneer in new branding—who said, “You won’t build relationships by talking about yourself all the time.”

You couldn’t be more right, Phil, and just like in dating, no one wants to sit with someone who drones on and on about themselves.

Great content adds value to a topic; brings a fresh perspective to an issue, or provides advice and counsel on how to solve a problem—all without the chest pounding.

And, if you continuously post content to your site and distribute through other social media channels, that will help with SEO efforts because according to Searchmetrics, 7 out of 10 of the most important factors in SEO ranking now come from social media. Whether you post it on LinkedIn, Google+, tweet about it, or link to a Facebook post, all these efforts help optimize your search results.

Take a fresh look at your content—is it authentic? Does it truly help the reader gain new knowledge or insight on a topic? Or is it just the lipstick on your pig?

3 IMM Trends to Watch in 2015

Happy New Year! As we look ahead this year with confidence in our ability to reach those aggressive goals and objectives, it seems that all the great marketing will be done by organizations who are customer-centric, nimble across channels, purposeful in messaging and timing, well-organized and collaborative and, perhaps as an underlying imperative to all of those … in control of their technology. CRM and Integrated Marketing Management (IMM) are core areas of marketing technology investment and opportunity for all of us. I summarize the (near) future of IMM with three words: Data, content and automation.

Happy New Year! As we look ahead this year with confidence in our ability to reach those aggressive goals and objectives, it seems that all the great marketing will be done by organizations who are customer-centric, nimble across channels, purposeful in messaging and timing, well-organized and collaborative and, perhaps as an underlying imperative to all of those … in control of their technology. CRM and Integrated Marketing Management (IMM) are core areas of marketing technology investment and opportunity for all of us. I summarize the (near) future of IMM with three words: Data, content and automation.

1. Data. A recent Oracle study projects that big data will be a $50 billion business by 2017. This continued understanding and utility of big data means bigger budgets for analytics, which grew significantly in 2014 and many analysts expect will continue to grow across industries in 2015. Getting big data and marketing analytics right is the No. 1 imperative for companies who wish to lead their markets. Bad or “dirty” data across businesses and the government will cost the U.S. economy $600 billion dollars a year, and many companies are realizing the opportunity cost of not collecting, owning and analyzing their data.

For IMM strategies, using big data is all about connections. Good IMM solutions will help marketers connect business lines, cross-channel customers, loyal brand advocates and dispersed employee bases.

2. Content. We’ve seen social and content come together in 2014 to begin to build an integrated marketing strategy for many marketers. Brands ramped up their content marketing efforts in a big way, and so 2015 investment will add analytics to the mix and focus on ROI to quantify and benchmark these efforts. Good IMM technology and practices helps to operationalize all that content, matching it with lifecycle stage, real-time advertising and insights from analytics and the budget. The result should be higher quality content that is unique to customer and channel. Repurposed content across social networks is not going to cut it any more.

“Know thy customer” will be the mantra of CRM and IMM for 2015. Companies that succeed will be nimble—not only with content that integrates and personalizes campaigns, but also in the resource management and planning process. We are big fans of strategic planning here at TopRight, but budgeting needs to be flexible and responsive to market, customer and competitive change. Managing dynamic programs in ever-changing ecosystems is at the heart of a great IMM approach. Hot areas of investment will include mobility, social media and technologies, Web analytics and e-commerce.

3. Automation. People don’t want “Brand experiences.” They want “My experiences.” IMM and CRM are critical to understanding each customer as a unique person, with interests and demands that are very personal to each. Automation is what lets marketers act on a lot of those opportunities, provided the data is protected and governed and the risk-mitigated for engines to make social gaffes or predictive blunders. Buzzwords like predictive analytics, pre-targeting and iBeacons have made marketers’ roles more complex, but also more powerful, proactive and measurable. Automation will appear this coming year as part of ad placement and retargeting, programmatic buying and campaign management and optimization.

Are you ready for the challenges that 2015 will bring? Your customer connections won’t occur and repeat without wise investments in your IMM and marketing automation technology. It’s a good time of year to assess your prowess in not just owning, but actually using your marketing technology.