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How to manage risk with your content marketing strategy

Manage content marketing risk
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This post is by Darren Woolley, Founder of TrinityP3. With his background as analytical scientist and creative problem solver, Darren brings unique insights and learnings to the marketing process. He is considered a global thought leader on agency remuneration, search and selection and relationship optimisation.

This is the third of a series of posts based on the video – How to overcome the challenges of content marketing – from the May 2014 seminar, How to be an Effective Content Marketer.

Featuring brand marketers who have established successful content marketing processes, this panel discusses the challenges associated with content marketing and shares strategies to overcome them.

MC:

Featured panellists:

In the previous post the panel discussed ways to measure content marketing effectiveness.

Today, the marketing panel talk about managing risk with your content marketing strategy and what they learned from mistakes they made on their content marketing journey.

The panel’s definition of content marketing

Ed:
What about the panel’s definition of content marketing? Did you think the examples that I showed earlier, is that all content marketing or is some of that advertising that’s sort of dressed up as engagement driven?

I’ve just put out there some examples from around the world that I think are, they’re obviously engagement driven strategies. Whether they are proper content marketing I don’t know.

Luana:
I think that they are. The Oreo example may be a bit borderline, maybe it is a little bit advertising, but still the content is the core so it’s almost like what you were talking about before, being campaign led so it’s a campaign but actually the content marketing is your core approach.

So to me, I agree with your definition that it’s actually an approach, it’s a strategy and it’s underpinning everything that you do. Again, back to lead gen and B2B, I’d say that content marketing is the fuel for the engine.

That’s how I see it in my strategy and what I’m trying to achieve. So it’s definitely what’s fueling acquisition, lead acquisition, lead nurturing and then generation and then follow through, cross sale or up-sell. So that’s what underpins it all.

Ed:
So we’ve all lodged pieces that we thought were great that under-performed for a variety of reasons in terms of, they just didn’t cut it, they didn’t make the grade.

How can you manage risk when you come to your own content marketing strategies and make the most value out of your efforts? We’ve all made mistakes, let’s fess up and share some of those mistakes with the audience so that hopefully you guys can learn.

Anton:
Okay, I f@#ked up. Let’s get real. I just think if you go back to the 2% of people that have a strategy and 98% of you don’t, that’s okay. I’d be interested to know what you’re actually measuring in your strategy.

So I think for me it’s, have you got a strategy? Have you actually measured? And therefore can you deem whether it’s actually been a failure or a success? I have done some work on beauty products and we extended it into a whole value added suite of stories around women and their beauty regime.

This is a bloke talking about beauty regimes, I love it. So the girls in the audience, it was about creating a beauty regime and what role or what look you had and what level of experience you had with beauty products.

So if that makes a bit of sense, we thought we had the best strategy and we had lots of interesting content. We invited women to salons and filmed them, videoed them. And we systematically tested about 30 pieces of content. Videoed them, put them through social networks, got advocates and promoters to get out there and talk about it.

We had some spectacular failures on content that we thought was fantastic. This is from experts, you know, hair experts who’d come from the UK. I won’t go into the specifics but the learning was, we thought it was great, we didn’t necessarily know what our audience wanted, we didn’t actually ask what they wanted, and we probably pushed a bit too much at them and hoped it goes viral, hoped people would go and share it.

I’d love a million shares on Facebook. It doesn’t quite happen. So I think the big learning from the couple of failures was to ask your consumers or your audience or your target groups, what they’re wanting, and that’s the interaction metric.

I mean, Oreo was interesting but did they ask consumers if those were the best, informative pieces for the day? Probably not.

Todd:
But they know their audience, right?

Anton:
They knew the audience, yeah.

Todd:
They’re trying to play a relevant role in the audience’s day, they’re giving some value whether it’s entertaining or informative bits. It depends on their audience.

Anton:
I think they said they’d scraped Facebook for the keywords and the key conversations so they understood.

Ed:
But Anton were you able to change or evolve your concepts?

Anton:
We did.

Ed:
On real time feedback?

Anton:
Yeah, so we learnt. We ran a series of events over about 6 months so we learnt from the spectacular failures in some of the first events then having customer feedback and then tailoring some of the next events to what the women were saying.

We then broke it into 3 basic clusters. Very advanced beauty regime, mid-level awareness and knowledge and very basic.

So we ran basic content to people who had a basic understanding, mid-level content to mid-level of understanding and more advanced master class type stuff which sort of sounds obvious doesn’t it? But test things and fail to understand.

Learning content marketing on the go

Ed:
I think that’s one of the advantages of content marketing actually. Isn’t it? You can learn on the go. If you put stuff out there and it doesn’t work, tweak it, change it, and that’s one of the major plus points I think of it as a channel. Skye, any failures?

Skye:
I’d just say, I actually wouldn’t call them failures because I think it’s just learning experiences.

Ed:
Sure, good point.

Skye:
We’ve definitely had content that’s worked better than other pieces, but that helps us drive a strategy and decide on what our customers actually want so I think it can only help you.

We look at our analytics on a regular basis. We see what our email campaigns do, we send the most popular articles and I think the key is what Anton was saying, ask people.

I’m sure everyone in this room has internal databases that they can leverage or Facebook communities or any other social networks that you can get in touch with, ask them what they want to hear.

Ed:
Yeah, okay. Luana any learnings?

Luana:
I agree with what these guys are saying. For us, it’s quite a new approach but you can definitely watch the data and you know what’s happening on the site and what are the content pieces that people are downloading or not and I think that share data is a very good indicator because it’s actually natural if somebody wants to share that content.

I’m talking about B2B which is not so much about entertainment and that factor about what’s cool and what drives emotion, it’s more about what’s helpful to drive my own business.

So if they’re sharing that it’s because there’s value, so more of that would be what you’d do and if it’s really not getting picked up, then it probably means that it’s not really hitting the mark.

I also think that in terms of getting feedback and listening to customers, it’s also very powerful to speak with your sales organisation and sales people. They’re on the ground and customer service as well.

They will know, they’ll be speaking with customers all the time so it’s another source to get ideas for content and incorporate that in the mix. But I couldn’t point to any huge failures yet.

Todd:
If I was to point to one mistake, well, I don’t know if it was a mistake.

Two points. Don’t forget that the space itself is changing dramatically. So it used to be custom publishing, then it’s digital publishing and now, incrementally, even the last 12 months, the people’s desire to consume long-form content has plummeted dramatically.

It’s all about visual, it’s all about video. People just don’t have time or interest with the volume of content out there to consume content that was even relevant not that long ago.

One thing I think we got too hung up on early was really focusing on how many people are looking at our stuff and how many people are sharing and getting it out there and it’s very easy to get caught up in trying to optimise and really maximise that engagement.

Where I think we pushed through that to focus on lead gen and especially closing pipeline is really where it changes the focus because you don’t get distracted in the cloud of trying to make things popular. You’re just trying to get a result from the right people.

Don’t be afraid of long-form content

Anton:
But don’t be afraid of long-form content, I’m going to be controversial. Everyone’s trying to say go shorter, you know, shorter content, smaller, snack-able, etc.

Mike is here in the audience, he’s our search guru and with TrinityP3, we’ve tested blog content, so we are B2B. Our blog content is short articles, mid articles and long articles and the way we separate them is up to 500 words, up to 1000 words and 1500 words plus.

Ed:
And what’s the most successful?

Anton:
Some of the long-form content is performing the best (more than 1500 words).

Ed:
Performing is what?

Anton:
Performing in terms of interaction metrics, so viewing and sharing and commentary. So for us it’s about putting a quality piece of content out there, sparking some debate.

Also, Darren Woolley has been highly controversial in talking about measuring social media through Klout and social scores and others, but it sparked conversation.

Ed:
So do you think if you share something that’s kind of short it doesn’t have that kind of authority and it’s not weighty?

Anton:
Not necessarily, I’m just saying that there is longer form content, if anyone remembers the old BT ads, remember the long-form ads in newspapers, the older ones in the audience?

It took you a long time to read through print ads but quality content is like a book. If you’re happy to read through it, it’s relevant, it’s interesting, I like content that’s interesting for the person who’s reading it. You will read through it and share it or like it or maybe make a comment so I think that’s the point.

Content is a story about something that’s compelling and interesting. If you’re not interesting, people aren’t going to read it. If it is interesting, you might read on and add to it and share it.

I think Oreo was short-form content that was really interesting. I’d share my point of view through Facebook.

Luana:
And it’s almost like putting your journalist hat on. I was saying that the other day that it’s funny that as a marketer you’re always thinking about your customers and the journey but the product?

And here it’s almost leaving that on the side and thinking as a journalist, what can we film and do and like, what would people like to be consuming if I was putting together a magazine that didn’t have anything to try and sell, what would I do? So I think that that’s where you’re going to really generate content that is engaging.

You can read the earlier posts here:

Part 1

Part 2

Video production by Hunting With Pixels 

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Darren is considered a thought leader on all aspects of marketing management. A Problem Solver, Negotiator, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Marketing Management Consultants, founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum and Author. He is also a Past-Chair of the Australian Marketing Institute, Ex-Medical Scientist and Ex-Creative Director. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com

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