At Fractl, a content marketing agency, I lead a team of researchers whose goal it is to conduct studies that will help us further refine our content production and promotions processes. Our research spans from data analysis of 2.6 billion social shares, to in-depth consumer surveys of thousands to people, to viral emotion heat mapping and beyond.

Over the last few years, we've executed close to 30 research projects that are redefining how the marketing industry gains brand awareness, earns consumer engagement, and increases organic search rankings. Our studies have been published on the Harvard Business Review, Inc, Marketing Land, The Next Web, Fast Company, and dozens of other reputable sites.

In an effort to inform and refine your 2016 marketing strategies, I've summarized XXX key takeaways that will help you achieve your goals in the new year. Fastrack to our marketing research white papers here, or dive into the individual takeaways below:

I. The Emotions That Make Marketing Campaigns Go Viral

In order to understand the best emotional drivers to use in the content we create, we looked at 50 of the top 100 images of the year from Imgur, as voted on Reddit - a community of 9.4 million content voters. We then plotted the most common and strongest emotions using Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotion.

1. The strength of the emotional impact was a great indicator for the popularity of the content on Reddit. The top four most popular posts on Reddit also had the top four highest aggregate emotionality scores - the sum of the emotional strength scores.

2. The top 10 emotions were: amusement, interest, surprise, happiness, delight, pleasure, joy, hope, affection and excitement.

3. The bottom 10 emotions were: anger, politeness, frustration, doubt, embarrassment, despair, hurt, guilt, contempt, shame

4. 98% of the images spurred a positive emotion, while only 2% were negative.

5. Contrasting emotions increased the emotional impact. In the cases where negative emotions were present, they seemed to directly contrast positive emotions, enhancing the emotionality of the image through contrast.

6. Empathy acts as an emotional multiplier for content that elicits negative emotions.

7. Interest, surprise, and amusement act as emotional multipliers for positive emotions.

8. Admiration was very commonly found in highly shared content.

II. Consumer Survey on Effectiveness of Outbound vs Inbound Marketing

Fractl conducted an online survey of more than 1,000 people. Participants were asked 13 questions regarding their opinions on and recent engagement with various marketing media and tactics.

9. Close to 90% of people said they used online search to seek out more information about a company, and over 80% said they visit the company's website.

10. A whopping 93.2% used online search to find information about a company within the last week, and almost 90% had read an article about a company.

11. 54% said mobile app ads have a negative influence on their buying decisions.

12. Close to 60% of the people we surveyed used some form of ad blockers while browsing the web.

13. 54% of people reported they had not clicked on any ads within a week of being surveyed.

14. 77% are more likely to buy your product or service after learning about it through online search.

15. 57% are positively influenced by online articles--47.4% are slightly more likely to buy something they hear about via online articles.

16. Email marketing was most likely to negatively impact buying decisions, with 44% of respondents slightly less likely to buy something they hear about via email marketing.

17. 48% of people said "Appearing in search results when I'm looking for something I need or want," is one of the most effective ways for a company to attract the consumer's business.

18. Direct mail positively impacts buying decisions for just over 30%.

III. Reach, Engagement, and ROI of Content Marketing vs Native Advertising

We surveyed over 30 different content marketing agencies and analyzed native advertising cost data from close to 600 digital publishers.

19. 72% of clients have asked their content marketing agencies about native advertising.

20. The average cost of launching a native advertising program with a top-tier news publisher is $54,014.29. The highest cost was $200,000.

21. When we expanded our analysis to include all publishers who have a DA greater than 80, we found the average cost of launching a native advertising program was $35,482.50.

22. When we evaluate all publishers and blogs below a DA of 80, we see the less valuable publishers (lower reach) offer a significantly reduced cost. For sites with a DA less than 80, the highest cost was $20,000 and the lowest cost was $10.

23. 70% of content marketing agencies offer monthly retainers.

24. 48% of clients measure content marketing success by the number of leads, high-quality links, and total social shares generated by each campaign.

25. 39% use DA to evaluate the authority of a link.

26. Retainers tend to fall into four buckets: $1,000-$5,000, $5,000-$10,000, $10,000-$50,000, and $50,000-$100,000.

27. On average, 65% of agencies produce between 1 and 10 campaigns per month for each client.

28. Articles and infographics represent almost 60% of production, with case studies, interactive graphics, and videos accounting for close to 30% of production.

29. Excluding outliers, the average content marketing campaign earns 27 links.

30. The average for each agency's "most successful campaign" is 422 links and the median is 150 links.

IV. 500 Top-Tier Publishers Tell How To Get Press

We surveyed over 500 top-tier writers from sites like TIME, Huffington Post, and cNet to discover what they want from content creators and promoters.

31. Only 5% of writers wish they saw more press releases.

32. 64% of writers wish they saw more infographics, mixed-media, data visualizations, images, videos and interactive maps.

33. 39% of writers want campaigns that have exclusive research.

34. 27% of writers want a campaign that has breaking news.

35. 15% of writers want to publish a campaign that has high-arousal emotions.

36. 70% of writers would rather collaborate on an idea instead of getting pitched a finished asset.

37. On average, 45% of writers publish one story per day.

38. 40% of writers get pitched 20 times per day, while 8% of publishers in highly competitive verticals get pitched more than 100 times per day.

39. 10 verticals receive more than 300 pitches per day, with lifestyle receiving the bulk of the pitches at 26.1%.

40. Lifestyle, entertainment and technology verticals combined attract more than 50% of all high-volume pitches.

41. Editors receive more than 68% of all pitches, 7x more than bloggers or writers.

42. Only 5% of writers "never" write a story based on something that was sent through a pitch.

43. 64% of writers think it's important that you establish a personal connection before sending a pitch.

44. 66% of writers said they'd be more likely to open a pitch if you indicated a previous relationship in your subject line.

45. 81% of writers prefer that you send your pitch via email.

46. Less than 10% of writers said they prefer to be pitched on social media.

47. Only 5% of writers want you to call them with your pitch, and most of these writers were small blog owners.

48. 69% of writers prefer to be pitched in the morning hours.

49. 88% of writers want your pitch to be less than 200 words.

50. More than 85% of writers want the campaign's raw data to be included in your pitch.

51. 85% of writers said they would delete your pitch based on a spelling/grammar errors, regardless of your campaign's quality.

52. 85% of writers open an email based on its subject line.

53. More than 50% of writers want a subject line that is descriptive, specific, and tailored to their beat.

54. Almost 100% of respondents told us they were against sensationalist tones such as "This is incredible!" or "You won't believe what we found!".

55. 75% of writers want your subject line to be fewer than 10 words.

56. 42% of writers want your subject line to define the content format and title of what you're pitching, "The Selfie Phenomenon [Parallax]".

57. 29% of writers say a personalized subject line catches their attention the most, "You Have a Beer Chine, We Have Cowbell - RE: Exclusive Study".

58. 19% of writers say a statistic-based subject line catches their attention the most, "Kylie Jenner posted 451 selfies to Instagram [Celebrity Selfie Study]".

59. Only 10% of writers want you to mention their name in their subject line, "Hi [Name], I thought you might like this].

60. 87% of writers agree you should send one or two follow-up emails at most.

V. What 2.6 Billion Shares Reveals the Platforms and Publishers Dominating Social

We partnered with BuzzSumo to analyze the 1 million most-shared articles within a six-month timeframe. Collectively, these articles generated more than 2.6 billion shares on five social platforms.

61. The top million articles showed that the most engaged platforms, in order, were: 1. Facebook 2. Twitter 3. Google+ 4. Pinterest 5. LinkedIn

62. Facebook dominated both network size and engagement, generating more than 2.18 billion shares of the articles in our study--81% of the total shares generated.

63. Using Alchemy API, we determined that Pinterest and LinkedIn's content had the most positive sentiment, Twitter and Google+ had the most even distribution of emotions, and Facebook was the most negative when you removed publisher outliers.

64. BuzzFeed represented more than 400 million total shares, earning nearly 150 million more shares than second-place publisher Huffington Post.

65. 88% of publishers earned less than 25 million shares for all their top articles in the first half of the year--less than 1/16th of BuzzFeed's share volume.

66. Mashable, Forbes, and The New York Times were among the five most-shared publishers on three different networks; BuzzFeed and CNN each earned top-five spots on two different networks. No other publishers earned enough shares to rank in the top five of more than one network.

67. Most publishers averaged less than 5,000 shares per article, but Upworthy and ViralNova garnered an average of more than 60,000 shares per article.

VI. How to Build a Content Strategy to Earn more Social Shares

We analyzed 220 high- and low-engagement websites from 11 major verticals that produce content.

68. Business publications see the most shares on Tuesday.

69. Food followers share the most on Mondays.

70. Health peaks on Friday for high-engagement publishers, but Tuesday for low-engagement publishers.

71. LinkedIn earned 21% of shares for high-engagement publications in the business vertical.

72. Twitter earned 11% of shares for high-engagement tech publications, and 20-34% of shares for low-engagement business, finance, tech, and entertainment publications.

73. Pinterest ranked second for a mix of high- and low-engagement publishers in health, lifestyle, food, and education.

VII. How Individual Identity Influences What We Share

To get an idea of how people view and construct their identity through sharing on social media, we surveyed more than 1,000 people about different aspects of their online sharing habits and motivations with regard to personal identity.

74. 68% of women expect 11 or more likes or comments on their Facebook posts, compared with 61% of men.

75. 84% of respondents said "relationships" and "being a good friend to those I care about" are important to them when considering what content they share online--more than 20% said these factors are "extremely important."

76. 63% of respondents ranked their personal values and moral standards as "very" or "extremely important" when they shared content online.

77. 68% of participants said they had posted on social media between 1-7 times in the past week.

78. 42% said 1-3 of their posts were articles or media from third-party online publishers.

79. Millennials ranked their dreams, imagination, and goals higher than their older counterparts.

80. 41% of men said social identity was at least somewhat important, compared with 37% of women.

81. Millennials and Generation X (ages 18-50) placed more importance on their physical appearance, while the oldest age groups (ages 51 and above) gave it very little importance.

82. Fewer than 35% said their possessions--the things they own--were important in their content sharing.

IX. The Inbound Marketing Economy

We analyzed 75,315 inbound marketing job listings posted on Indeed.com during June 2015.

83. The number of profiles containing "content marketing" has seen the largest growth, with a 168% increase since 2013.

84. "PPC" returned the smallest number of results, with only 3.8% of listings containing this term.

85. "Social media" appears on a significantly higher volume of profiles than the other keywords, with more than 2.2 million profiles containing some mention of social media.

86. Although "SEO" has not seen as much growth as the other keywords, it still has the second-highest volume with it appearing in 630,717 profiles.

87. Digital marketing job listings have seen substantial growth since 2009, when it accounted for less than 0.1% of Indeed.com search results. In January 2015, this number had climbed to nearly 0.3%.

88. Jobs containing "digital marketing" or "inbound marketing" had the highest average salary of $84,000.

89. Jobs containing "SEO" and "Google Analytics" are tied for second with $76,000 as the average salary.

90. Massachusetts led the U.S. with the most jobs per capita for digital marketing, content marketing, SEO, and Google Analytics.

Source : http://www.inc.com/kelsey-libert/90-research-backed-tips-to-fuel-your-2016-marketing-strategy.html

Categorized in Market Research

With tons of new content published online every day and our attention spans shrinking by the day (or minute), having a firm understanding of the individuals you're trying to reach is increasingly vital to a business's existence. New research and tracking trends are popping up all over but this is what you should get used to in 2016:

It's all mobile.

Everything and everyone is mobile. Your research, analytics and marketing must be, too. Emily Culp of Keds stated in a recent interview that consumers look at their phones 150 times a day. Pew Research recently jumped on board with mobile surveys, increasing the percentage of their telephone surveys conducted via mobile to 75%. It was only 25% back in 2008. Which makes sense because as of 2014, 44% of Americans lived in households with no landline, so researchers were missing a huge portion of the population by surveying people with landline phones.

Your business, your content and your research needs to be mobile friendly. How long are customers spending looking at your page? Are they using an app or visiting your mobile site through Chrome or Safari? Do they first check social before beginning their shopping? Most of their activity will occur on their mobile device.

Track the decision-making process.

The consumer experience does not begin when someone enters your store or visits your website. As I mentioned above, so much of their activity is on their mobile device and their likely chatting with friends, visiting your social channels and those of influencers well before they get to the business's site. It's crucial to understand all the steps and see where most of your audience is spending their time prior to a purchase.

"The way you present your content, value proposition and call to action will have a big impact on the decision-making process and whether your users will convert," says Darryl Stevens founder & CEO of digiTech Web Design. "I recommend that you get to know your customer from a deeper perspective. There is a treasure trove of data that you can glean from each user action, interaction and decision, both within your website and on other touch points. You can use these to optimize your design and content for better performance."

Time is measured in nanoseconds.

Attention spans are short and getting shorter. Marketing must match that pace. Short videos, flashy photos, and quick reads get and keep attention. If you take too long to reel in the customer, they've moved on to a new site, new feed or new app.

Similarly, if a message doesn't work, you must adjust quickly and seamlessly. There is very little time to go all the way back to the drawing board. A-B testing and having backup options for each campaign is the only way to keep those potential customers. "Understanding what you have learned in the past is critical so you can re-apply and synthesize those learnings quickly so not only making faster adjustments but better decisions" says Kristi Zuhlke, CEO and Co-Founder of KnowledgeHound, a technology that enables market research and marketing organizations curate, search and analyze their market research within seconds. Stay on top of the analytics and be checking your progress far more frequently than a quarterly or monthly basis. If you wait that long, you've already lost too many people and you won't be able to win them back.

It's always worth noting that the core principles of marketing haven't changed. You still need to offer a product people want or need at a price they're willing to pay. However, place and promotion have consistently evolved to mean mobile and online engagement. Remember, people will read and engage with content that is interesting and relevant to them. Sometimes that content is your marketing.

Source:  http://www.inc.com/adam-fridman/how-market-research-is-changing-in-2016.html

Categorized in Market Research

How to use online market research tools, including search techniques, tips, and tools for using the Internet for researching your competition and market.

Your may already be conducting online market research for your business—but you may not know it. Some of the easiest to use and most common tools are located right at your fingertips. Web searches, online questionnaires, customer feedback forms—they all help you gather information about your market, your customers, and your future business prospects.

The advent of the Internet has presented small businesses with a wealth of additional resources to use in conducting free or low-cost market research. The following pages will describe the different types of tools to conduct online market research, go over the general categories of market research, and advise you how to create the best online questionnaires.

Online Market Research Tools

The following techniques can be used to gather market information with the help of a few mouse clicks and keystrokes:

Keyword Search. You know how to do a simple Web search using search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Take that a step farther by searching for "keywords" that people would use to find your type of products or services on the Internet. See how much interest there is in these keywords -- and how many competitors you have in this market. Keyword searches can also help remind you of product niches that you might not have considered.

There are other reasons to conduct keyword searches. 'First, you're going to be reminded of product niches that you might not of thought of.' says Jennifer Laycock, editor-in-chief of Search Engine Guide, an online guide to search engines, portals and directories. 'Second, these services will also give you a guesstimate of how many existing sites already use that phrase,' Laycock continues. 'How many existing sites already offer that product.' WordTracker and Trellian's Keyword Discovery are popular keyword search engines.

Competitor Links. A traditional search engine can also help you check out your competitors, their prices, and their offerings. Try typing 'link:www.[competitor's name].com' into Google to find out how many other sites link to your competitor's website. 'It is a great way to see a competitor's link development and PR campaigns,' says Shari Thurow, Web expert and author of the upcoming book Search Engine Visibility. 'Is the competitor promoting a product or service similar to your own? Maybe you can get publicity because you have a new or better product.'

Read Blogs. Blogs are updated much more regularly than traditional websites and, therefore, they can be another gauge of public opinion. Search blogs by using blog-specific search engines, such as Technorati or Nielsen BuzzMetrics' Blogpulse. 'Blogs tend to move at a faster pace and be more informal in tone, so you're more likely to pick up conversation about a new product type or need on a blog than on a standard web site,' Laycock says.

Conduct Online Surveys. Another way to gauge public opinion is through online surveys. While not as scientific as in-person or phone surveys that use a random sampling of the population, online surveys are a low-cost way to do market research about whether an idea or a product will be appealing to consumers. Now many companies offer to conduct online research for you or give your company the tools to carry out your own surveying. Some online survey companies include EZquestionnaire, KeySurvey, and WebSurveyor.

Research Tools and Techniques

There are a variety of types of market research tools -- both offline and online -- that are used by many large businesses and can be available to small and mid-sized businesses. When these techniques involve people, researchers use questionnaires administered in written form or person-to-person, either by personal or telephone interview, or increasingly online. Questionnaires may be closed-end or open-ended. The first type provides users choices to a question ("excellent," "good," "fair") whereas open-ended surveys solicit spontaneous reactions and capture these as given. Focus groups are a kind of opinion-solicitation but without a questionnaire; people interact with products, messages, or images and discuss them. Observers evaluate what they hear.

Major categories are as follows:

Audience Research. Audience research is aimed at discovering who is listening, watching, or reading radio, TV, and print media respectively. Such studies in part profile the audience and in part determine the popularity of the medium or portions of it.

Product Research. Product tests, of course, directly relate to use of the product. Good examples are tasting tests used to pick the most popular flavors—and consumer tests of vehicle or device prototypes to uncover problematical features or designs.

Brand Analysis. Brand research has similar profiling features ("Who uses this brand?") and also aims at identifying the reasons for brand loyalty or fickleness.

Psychological Profiling. Psychological profiling aims at construction profiles of customers by temperament, lifestyle, income, and other factors and tying such types to consumption patterns and media patronage.

Scanner Research. Scanner research uses checkout counter scans of transactions to develop patterns for all manner of end uses, including stocking, of course. From a marketing point of view, scans can also help users track the success of coupons and to establish linkages between products.

Database Research 

Also known as database "mining," this form of research attempts to exploit all kinds of data on hand on customers—which frequently have other revealing aspects. Purchase records, for example, can reveal the buying habits of different income groups—the income classification of accounts taking place by census tract matching. Data on average income by census tract can be obtained from the Bureau of the Census.

Post-sale or Consumer Satisfaction Research. Post-consumer surveys are familiar to many consumers from telephone calls that follow having a car serviced or calling help-lines for computer- or Internet-related problems. In part such surveys are intended to determine if the customer was satisfied. In part this additional attention is intended also to build good will and word-of-mouth advertising for the service provider.

Writing Online Questionnaires

When it comes to using Web-based surveys, small businesses should stick to a few simple but important rules:

The Shorter the Better. Don't alienate survey takers with long questionnaires. Limit yourself to 25 questions, which should take people five to seven minutes to finish, says Mary Malaszek, owner of Market Directions, a Boston market-research firm that works with businesses of all sizes. If surveys are much longer, people will abandon them 'and then you can't use them, and the next time you send them a survey they won't even open it,' she says. Other methods for keeping surveys short, according to a SensorPro white paper on online survey guidelines: make the first page simple, present answer options in multiple columns or a drop-down box, and put a status bar at the top of each question page so respondents know how close they are to being finished.

Avoid Open-Ended Questions. Since people want to zip through a survey, don't include a lot of open-ended questions where they have to type out the answers. Close-ended questions they can click on a button to answer—Yes, No, Maybe, Never, Often—work much better, Malaszek says. Companies can use close-ended questions to get the same kind of in-depth analysis open-ended questions provide by using rankings scales, which ask a respondent to rate something on some type of scale, 1 to 5, or 1 to 10, she says.

Be Persistent. If you're asking customers or vendors to take a survey, it's okay to send more than one invitation, especially to people who've previously indicated they would be willing to participate. Just make sure you've got people's permission, so they don't think you're spamming them, the survey experts say.
Be Patient. Businesses decide they want to do a survey then get impatient when they can't get the results right away, Malaszek says. Even though online surveys reduce some of the work, they take time to design and administer, and when the results are in, more time to interpret. It's a good idea to pick one person to shepherd the process, she says.

Source:  http://www.inc.com/guides/biz_online/online-market-research.html

Categorized in Market Research

Different retailers have different priorities when it comes to their marketing budgets, but the most valuable brands – Amazon and Apple – are banking on search.

We all know Amazon is the undisputed king of ecommerce. From November 2014 to November 2015, the company raked in more than $71 billion in online sales, which is more than Walmart, Apple, Macy’s, The Home Depot, Best Buy, Costco, Target, Gap Inc., Williams-Sonoma, Sears and Kohl’s sold. Combined.

What is Amazon doing that the others aren’t?

According to Fractl, a Florida-based content marketing agency which analyzed the marketing spend of these massive retailers, search gets the lion’s share of Amazon’s budget. During that year period, the ecommerce giant spent $8 million on TV and radio, a number that sounds very high in isolation. However, Amazon spent $54 million on print and $1.35 billion on search.

 

Among the other retailers, only Apple – called the most valuable brand in the world last year – and Etsy prioritize search to such a degree. Apple spent far more on TV and outdoor advertising than Amazon, though search still made up 86 percent of its spend. Search was an even higher percentage for Etsy: 91 percent, with 1.39 million going to search and $90,000 to other digital channels.

The Etsy finding was the most interesting to Lillian Podlog, project manager at Fractl, who noted that Etsy doesn’t have the same juggernaut status as Apple and Amazon.

“With Amazon and Apple, you can ask what came first, their success or where they put their marketing dollars. Maybe at this point, they can do anything, but Etsy has the same tactic and if you look at organic search rankings, it’s doing really well,” she says.

Etsy saw among the highest ROI in the study. For every $1 spent on marketing, the online marketplace saw $1,600 in sales. Additionally, Etsy, along with Apple and Amazon, had a disproportionately high SEMrush rankings compared with the others, which means they saw higher organic traffic.

That’s a common correlation among the brands analyzed by Fractl. Most of those with larger search spends have higher SEMrush rankings.

“So many people use ad blockers, so many people have blindness to display ads. Investing in search, whether its paid or building your SEO, requires you to really think about what kind of content you’re putting on the Internet that would appeal to users and boost your SEO,” says Podlog. “It requires you to be more thoughtful and considerate about what the customer really wants.”

Among the only exceptions to that rule are Williams-Sonoma and The Home Depot. Digital makes up 51 percent of sales – and 57 percent of the marketing budget – for the former. Nearly a quarter of that budget goes to search, but Williams-Sonoma still doesn’t rank particularly high. On the other hand, The Home Depot does, despite only spending 11 percent on search, instead prioritizing TV and radio. 

homedepot-spend

Where do some of the other major players put their money?

Best Buy puts the majority of its dollars in TV and digital, favoring network channels and display advertising over cable and search.

Costco, on the other hand, largely eschews TV. Instead, the warehouse retailer allocates 57 percent of its marketing dollars to display and nearly all the rest to magazines and newspapers.
Macy’s is another one with a heavy print focus. The brand spends $16 million on display and $32 million on search, which sounds like a lot of money, but is just a drop in the bucket by comparison. Macy’s spends 5.5 times as much on TV and more than 8 times as much on print. 

macys-spend“Macy’s is one of those companies that has an established name and an established consumer base, but if it wants to take some of Amazon’s chunk of online retail, it has to invest more in those other channels,” says Podlog. “Macy’s has been around for so long, but I personally think that unless it changes the shape of its spending, it’s going to suffer.”

Nordstrom’s priority is similarly on print – $27 million on magazines, compared with $6 million on search, $4 million on display, $5 million on TV and $2 million on outdoor – but the strategy is a bit different from that of Macy’s. While Macy’s spends most of its money on newspapers, Nordstrom goes for magazines, a medium that meshes better with the brand’s luxury focus.

Netflix, despite being heralded as one of the premier digital disruptors, doesn’t spend nearly as much money on digital advertising as one would assume. The streaming giant spends $1 million each on display and online video, and $17 million on TV with a particularly heavy focus on network. It makes to sense to Podlog, who points out that “people are watching TV, they’re not on Netflix.”

Target’s marketing budget is probably the most balanced. The retailer spends 46 on TV, 22 on print and 28 percent on digital. The majority of that digital spend is allocated to search, but $23 million is still set aside for online video. 

Source:  https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/06/where-do-the-biggest-brands-spend-their-marketing-dollars/ 

If you think content strategy and content marketing are independent of each other, your content doesn’t stand a chance. Here is why:

Content strategy vs. content marketing

Yes, the two concepts are drastically different from each other, but understanding that you can’t successfully do one without the other is a must.

Think of content strategy as a whole hamburger, with content marketing being the bun that holds that strategy together. A content strategy would fall apart if it didn’t have the support of content marketing, so why do we separate the two?

In its most basic form, content strategy provides answers to the Four W’s: Who? What? Where? Why? Content marketing answers how it will reach the target audience.

The problem many content strategists run into is that they think their job is done once they have provided answers to the Four W’s.

They wipe their hands clean and then rely on the content marketer—whether that’s an SEO expert, outreach specialist, or CRO professional—to take it from there.

This is a mistake.

Working with a content marketer throughout the entire process is the only way to take a good content piece and make it great.

Knowing what type of content to create

Content strategists who work in conjunction with content marketers will create content designed with the user in mind. They understand that a solid marketing strategy is all about delivering the right message, in the right format, to the right people, at the right time.

They also understand that a piece designed specifically for social media shouldn’t look the same as a piece that will be delivered via email campaigns.

Groupon has mastered the art of delivering the right content, in the right format, to the right people. Take their website content and their email marketing content, for example.

It’s evident they understand that while the two should convey the same message, it has to be delivered in different formats to gain any traction.

content groupon1

Their email campaigns provide just enough detail to get the consumer interested, without overwhelming them with information.

The website, on the other hand, is packed with information and answers nearly every question a customer could have.

These are prime examples of what can go right when a content strategist and a content marketer work together to deliver a message across different digital channels.

Creating content isn’t enough. It has to be seen

Have you ever come up with an idea you just know will take the internet by storm, yet it falls flat on its face? You’re not alone. In fact, in 2013 it was reported that roughly 70% of all content was never seen.

This brings us back to the idea that working together is the best way to create effective marketing campaigns.

As a content strategist, you should work with the content marketer from the get-go to determine not only who the content piece is for, but how to get that content in front of the target consumer. Content marketers are typically more immersed in an industry, working more directly with your target audience. They know where your target customer is and how to reach them.

Take, for example, Obrella.com, a startup website that’s trying to break into the well-established insurance industry. One approach taken was to review top auto and home insurance companies, not a new concept within any B2C industry. But incredibly effective.

Their reviews of Allstate auto insurance, The General, and more were quickly picked up and gained consistent traffic thanks to backlinks from top consumer websites.

The success they saw came from having a content marketing plan in place to help support the strategy. This allowed the content marketer to get the right content in front of consumers who were in the shopping phase of their purchase decision.

content analytics

If the content marketing plan had not been in place, the time and research that went into creating those pages could have all been for naught.

Content marketing explains ROI

At the end of the day, content strategists create content that aims to do something:get social shares, earn email addresses, make a sale, etc. And while a content strategist can dig into analytics and find page conversions, without working with the content marketer they can’t answer the how.

Let’s say you have a page that gets 20,000 visitors a month. Content strategists must work with the content marketer to be able to answer how that traffic was gained. With Facebook now sending more traffic than Google to sites, using SEO to explain the how is no longer the only viable option.

Content marketers are responsible for answering if paid media was utilized, what metrics were used for a social campaign that sent referring traffic, if it was part of a link-building campaign, and more.

most recent

Knowing the how will allow content strategists to make more informed decisions for the next piece, ultimately allowing them to be more successful and provide better content to the user.

“There is no content strategy without measurement strategy. Before embarking on a content initiative, irrespective of medium or platform, it’s important to know what you want to achieve.” -Rebecca Lieb, Principal at Conclomotron LLC

The end goal is the same

The good news is that both disciplines share the same objective, and should ultimately want what is best for the consumer. Then all it takes is an open line of communication.

Utilize kick-off meetings for each new project that address who the content is being created for, why it needs to be created, and how it’s going to get into the right hands. If you prefer tools to help you fully visualize the strategy and marketing of projects, I recommend Divvy, Kapost, and Marketing-AI.

At the end of the day, working together in a more seamless fashion will not only make both disciplines more successful, but will result in a better customer experience from start to finish.

Source:  https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/06/warning-dont-fall-victim-to-content-strategys-biggest-mistake/

Mary Meeker published her Internet Trends of 2016 last week and among others, there were very interesting stats regarding the increase of visual content and most importantly, how this affects communication, marketing, broadcasting and ecommerce.

There is a new generation coming up after millennials, the so-called Generation Z, which seems to be even more digital aware, comparing to the previous ones, evolving the idea of communication and content consumption, preferring visual content over written text.

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As millennials are growing older, trends also focus on the next generation and it’s interesting to see how visual content will affect their digital habits over the next years.

Visual social networks are more engaging

It’s not a coincidence that the most popular social networks rely on visual content, with the right type of content affecting users’ engagement. Facebook is the clear winner both in popularity and engagement among millennials, with Snapchat and Instagram following it.

Snapchat seems to be the second most engaging social platform, while Instagram seems to appeal to a bigger target group.

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Communication through visual content, whether it’s an image or a video, has been very popular and it forms a new method of interaction among users, as it’s quick, direct and more appealing.

However, visual content cannot guarantee the success of a social platform, as engagement can be challenging, and Vine’s (decreasing) engagement is the proof of it.

The evolution of video viewing

Video viewing has changed over the years, starting with the traditional live content through television to on-demand video with DVR and streaming, heading then to semi-live content with Snapchat Stories and experiencing today real live content, as more social networks embrace the power of live broadcasting.

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Timing, personalisation and relevance are more important than ever, while users appreciate the ability to broadcast their own content through their favourite social networks, feeling part of a community, contributing with their content to a relevant story.

Social media turns to video content

The rise of visual content has been affected by the growing popularity of social media and the latest stats from Facebook and Snapchat indicate the increase of video views on both social networks.

Native videos in social media seem to be preferred both by users and publishers and this led to an increase in video views during the past year.

Video advertising on Facebook is now offering many creative options for brands and this makes it very appealing, while users enjoy consuming short and engaging videos. Buzzfeed’s Tasty and its successful video content proves how effective a short video may be.

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Snapchat’s success with visual content

Snapchat has been one of the most engaging platforms lately and visual content contributed to its success.

The idea of splitting the use of content to Stories, Live and Discover, with each one serving a different goal, allowed Snapchat to guide users on the way they can use visual content, always in a casual and visually appealing way, full of colours and filters.

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This was very exciting for early influencers, skyrocketing the popularity of the platform, while brands recently realised how this new type of vertical content may be used for the promotion of their products and the highly desired conversion.

Snapchat’s advertising plan relies on 3Vs, vertical, video, and viewing and it’s the combination of these that creates effective ads, measuring both the number of views, but also the completion rate of each video.

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What’s more, the popularity of Snapchat’s filters helped brands use their creativity and produce their own branded filters to promote their products and users seemed to love this idea.

Up to now, many brands have tried to create their own branded filters, with Taco Bell’s being among the best uses that we’ve recently seen.

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The case of live broadcasting

Live broadcasting has been in high demand lately and this can also be attributed to Periscope’s success, turning all the big social networks to the trend of live videos.

It’s not just about promoting live broadcasting, it’s about turning users into broadcasters, creating their own live videos that lead to an impressive amount of available video content worldwide in real time.

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat have significantly benefited from live broadcasting, with each one of them promoting it accordingly.

Facebook for example seems willing to fill our news feeds with live videos, which seems very useful for brands that wants to use live content for their marketing strategy.

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Twitter on the other hand, decided to acquire Periscope, hoping to mix live broadcasting with real-time hashtags, in order to create a powerful suite of tools for live streaming and popular events all over the world.

What’s more, Twitter has sealed a collaboration with NFL to live stream live video, in another attempt to change digital broadcasting.

As for Snapchat, the idea of Live Stories blends user-generated content with a professional curator, in order to showcase the best local and global stories. This helps users feel included, while the platform may showcase a great amount of content.

Image growth remains strong

Despite the rise of video content, image growth remains strong, with Facebook-owned platforms taking the lead. Snapchat seems to be the only big competitor for Facebook and they both encourage users to upload new photos with their own unique incentives.

As for the brands’ point of view, images are still very effective and that’s why the are an integral part of their social strategy, especially when there’s no time, or budget, to create a video.

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How visual content leads to purchase conversion

Pinterest is the best example for brands on how visual content can increase purchase intent, as it is both engaging and effective.

Pinterest users love browsing for their favourite content, but they are also prepared to buy what they like, which brings out a new type of social platform that is not just about raising awareness about a brand, but also about motivating consumers to proceed to a purchase.

In fact, 55% of Pinterest users seem to use the platform to find and shop products, leaving Facebook and Instagram way behind with just 12% of purchase intent.

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Pinterest is not always considered the first option for brands looking to increase their social impact and increase sales, but the stats above indicate its success in driving sales, having an aware audience of online consumers who browse the site for current or future purchases.

It’s the power of visual content, the large size of the images, the popularity of infographics and the various types of pins that enhance the shopping experience that make Pinterest so appealing, reminding brands not to overlook it when trying to lead traffic to their site and increase sales.

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Although Pinterest may serve as the right example on how to use a platform to increase sales, most of the popular social networks can be used by a brand to increase sales, provided that the content is optimised in order to convey the right message.

The future of visual content

There’s no indication that visual content will be reduced any time soon. In fact, we are expecting an even greater increase, with Cisco predicting that by 2019, online video will be responsible for four-fifths of global internet traffic.

There’s a psychological trigger on why users find visual content appealing and its impact is also present in communication, creating a new form of self-expression. From the first type-based emojis up to the latest Snapchat filters, visual content was always fascinating as an additional form of communication, although it might even replace written texts in many occasions.

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Users love communicating with visual content through instant messaging, with emojis also being used by brands nowadays as an additional element of a casual tone.

Thus, it’s time for brands to discover all the new forms of visual content, in order to use them as part of their content marketing strategy, combining authenticity with a modern appeal, enhancing their message in the most appropriate way.

Source:  https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/06/08/meeker-report-what-you-should-know-about-the-rise-of-visual-content/

Categorized in Online Research

In case you haven’t noticed, the internet has fundamentally changed the way companies communicate with their customers. It’s gone from a one-way, broadcast communication (“It’s our Memorial Day Sale!”) to a two-way conversation (“What do you need, and how can we help?”). In this new paradigm, companies have to be authentic, and they have to be helpful—and increasingly, marketing departments are finding that creating great content is the best way to accomplish both.

But as it turns out, this paradigm applies to more than just marketing. It affects the way enterprise companies communicate and build relationships with all of their stakeholders, including investors, the press, employees, and the talent they’re trying to recruit. The internet has introduced a new level of choice and transparency into every one of those relationships. As a result, the content movement has become about more than just marketing; it’s about an evolution in the way brands share information.

We’re already seeing this with our clientele at Contently.

While marketers led the charge in adopting our technology, the past 18 months have seen myriad other departments leverage our content solution. Coca-Cola spreads stories internally and externally about their employees’ inspiring charitable work. Raymond James built an entire site to educate their financial advisors and turn them into thought leaders. Genpact has used content to transform their company culture. “The moment we started having strong stories, the CEOs, the CFOs, the investors—they loved it,” CMO Gianni Giocamelli explained at our Contently Summit last fall.

In the big picture, though, far too few enterprises are fully leveraging content across their organization, and they’re missing out on a big opportunity. It’s time for that to change.

In turn, we’re focused on helping modern brands in three big ways:

1. Tell Better Stories

Great stories build relationships. They make us care, and they teach us lessons we’d never learn otherwise. The same can’t be said, however, about memos, press releases, and product-pushing advertisements dressed in editorial content. Modern enterprises need to focus on creating content that serves the needs of all of their audiences, not their own self-interests.

2. Personalized Experiences for Every Stakeholder

Everyone across the organization needs access to content in a way that’s meaningful and empowering to them. Over the past decade, a wave of content management systems have tried to solve this problem, but they’ve largely just been a repository for generic content. Everyone—marketing, sales, HR, PR, etc.—is handed the same solution, despite having vastly different needs. The next wave of enterprise content solutions needs to create a unique experience for each content stakeholder in terms of content access and collaboration, audience targeting, distribution, and metrics of success. If that happens, adoption will follow.

3. A Centralized Experience

Organizational silos are poisonous to a content program. While the experience of every stakeholder should be personalized, content, data, and brand guidelines should be centralized, ensuring that large enterprises can tell a cohesive brand story across departments, products, and regions.

Launching a blog is easy, but when it comes to the future of enterprise content, these are the hard problems to solve. Brands and content vendors are making progress, but there’s still a long way to go.

Source:  https://www.searchenginejournal.com/content-transforming-enterprise/163572/

Categorized in Market Research

A guide to using market research to understand who your customers are and what they want.

BY: Rob Mandelbaum

 

If you don't know your customer, then you don't know your business. You won't know how to respond if you see changes in your sales patterns. And because it's so hard to hang on to customers you don't know intimately, you will forever be chasing new ones.

Unfortunately, though most business owners like to think they know their customers, many are really only guessing. And when it comes to forecasting sales -- in fact, when it comes to virtually every aspect of business planning -- an empirical understanding beats gut instinct almost every time. Now is the time to get the facts.

Professional market researchers generally divide their work into qualitative studies (interviews and focus groups, with free-flowing and open-ended discussions) and quantitative studies (usually surveys). In a perfect world, you would probably do both, using qualitative research to create a survey, the results of which might in turn be interpreted using another focus group. Given limited resources, though, it generally makes sense to go quantitative. After all, says Steve Sprague, a marketing consultant in Marion, Iowa, "some data -- any data -- is better than none."

Building a Better Survey

1. Define Your Survey Target
First, identify the customers to survey. In general, it makes sense to focus on your best customers. "You want to look at the upper 60 percent of your customers by sales," according to Sprague. Naturally, this is easiest for companies that track purchases and customers individually: Rank your customers by sales and lop off the bottom 40 percent. Alternatively, your sales or accounts receivable staff ought to know who your most reliable buyers are.

Retail shops and other establishments in which purchases are small and buyers tend to remain anonymous may have to settle for a smaller sample from a broader range of customers. But even these businesses can identify their best customers by encouraging customers to fill out a postage-paid postcard with very basic information or by asking them at the register for a Zip code, which can then be used to create a demographic profile. (See "Decoding Demographics.") You might also institute a frequent-customer program, in which you offer a discount or other incentive in exchange for a small amount of personal information and an opportunity to contact the customer later. Newsletters and e-mail updates are also an opportunity to identify whom to contact later; ditto the prize drawing that requires a business card to enter.

Sometimes you will want to study specific customers. If, say, sales are flagging, you might study lapsed customers. "Identifying characteristics of your attrition market may help you develop new customers and clients," notes Nancy Ulrich, a marketing research consultant in suburban Jacksonville, Florida.

2. Decide on a Format
There are basically three ways to administer a survey: by mail, by phone, or online. A highly personalized letter is best when the survey population is hard to reach (physicians, say, or senior executives). A phone interview serves well for complex and probing questions that demand interaction between interviewer and subject, but it normally requires professional assistance. Most businesses, though, will do very well with an online survey. Many survey companies (Zoomerang.com, for one) offer inexpensive tools and complex branched questions, in which a specific response to one query generates a specific follow-up. And they are fast -- you can see results in real time.

Experts say that a written survey should take from five to 15 minutes to complete. Divide your questions between customer satisfaction and customer demographics, weighted toward the former. And keep it short, says Sprague, who includes fewer than 10 questions when he writes surveys for his clients. "By limiting the number of questions, you improve the response rate," he says. "And it forces you to think about what's important."

Be personal, and begin by praising your customer and highlighting the importance of the survey. At the end of the survey, you should offer some sort of reward or incentive -- the longer the survey, the more generous the reward.

3. Probe Customer Satisfaction
When writing survey questions, take care to avoid introducing a bias that telegraphs the answers you hope to receive. Avoid trade jargon or abbreviations, or at least make sure they are well defined.

Ask open-ended questions.These let respondents ruminate about what they like about your company and what might improve the relationship. Be sure, says Ulrich, that the text boxes allow space for lengthy responses. Follow these with a multipart rating question and a corresponding multipoint scale to review your business's specific processes. Ulrich believes that respondents more easily understand descriptive words (excellent, fair, poor, etc.) than a numbered scale.

Calculate your net promoter score.Ask respondents how likely, on a scale from 0 to 10, they are to recommend your company, product, or service to others. The net promoter score is derived by subtracting the percentage of "detractors" (customers who rate the business from 0 to 6) from the percentage of "promoters" (who rate the company 9 or 10). The greater the difference, the more likely that your company can convert the enthusiasm of current customers into new customers. Sites like Net Promoter (netpromoter.com) offer more information about these scores and comparisons with leading companies. Or simply view your score as a useful general indicator of your customers' feelings about your product or service.

Ask for suggestions.Sprague likes to conclude the customer satisfaction portion of a survey with a query like: "What could we do to make your next experience with us extraordinary?" "It stretches their mind and your mind," he says. "It's going to help you think of things you haven't thought of before."

4. Dig for Demographics
The demographic information you seek will depend on which attributes drive your business -- these may include age, gender, marital status, educational attainment, household income, and leisure pursuits. Some of these are sensitive topics, and you don't always need to broach them. For instance, if you know a customer's Zip code, you can get a rough idea about income and education. If you know the address, you can refine that further by sorting customers into what are called census block groups, says Jeffrey DeBellis, director of marketing and research services at the University of North Carolina's Small Business and Technology Development Center. (See "Decoding Demographics.")

When your customers are businesses, you want information about their size by number of employees and revenue. (If your customers are reluctant to share that information, formulate the responses as a series of ranges.) Also, try to get the NAICS (or North American Industry Classification System) or SIC (or Standard Industry Classification, which has been replaced by the NAICS) code. This can help you identify similar companies in the area.

5. Test the Survey First
Before you make the survey available to your customers, ask family members and friends to test it for time and clarity, and whether the questions mean what you intend them to mean and are free of bias and the like.

Using the Data

Once you tabulate the results (which happens almost immediately with e-survey programs), patterns should emerge. "If you have 20 answers, and you don't see definite trends, then you probably don't have enough data," says Sprague. You could try to resurvey, using the existing results to write more probing and targeted questions, or you could convene a focus group. Focus groups are also useful for interpreting the results.

Focus, focus, focus.For focus-group testing, it is smart to engage experienced marketing consultants, who will be adept at moderating the conversation. For one thing, your subjects will probably be more reticent if you or your top sales executive is conducting the session. "With a trained focus-group facilitator, you're going to have someone who will generally script the experience up front," says Ulrich. Moreover, "experienced facilitators develop a certain amount of intuition when something's up," sensing when the dynamic has changed and able to steer the conversation in a new direction if necessary.

The "aha" moment.Ulrich recommends that once you have collected all the data, "find one or two 'aha' ideas and implement them immediately. Make sure they're visible and that they impact the greatest number of people in a positive way." This will show, she says, that you have been listening to the needs and concerns of your customers -- which, any great salesperson will tell you, is half the job.

Decoding Demographics

The Web offers databases and automated services that can help make sense of the survey data you collect. Some are free, but the most useful involve fees or subscriptions. Check with your public library and local "economic gardening" organizations -- such as Small Business Development Centers, chambers of commerce, and economic development groups -- to see if they offer free or discounted access.

Source : http://www.inc.com/magazine/20090901/guidebook-how-to-conduct-market-research.html

 

Categorized in Market Research

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