Stand up and be counted: are you producing and sharing content to make your business stand out from the digital herd but not getting traction?
Your not alone, although that may not be reassuring - 70% of marketers today struggle to stand up a coherent marketing strategy.
We are rapidly moving into a content drenched world. Content, Ads, Images, Mashups and Video are everywhere and on multiple devices and “prosumers” now trust experts more than they trust your brand.
Marketing platforms are increasingly more important for brands big and small, helping you get your message in front of the right individual on a targeted social channel.
I am mapping out some of issues many of you are facing for selecting a marketing platform and how to offset these with a digital review process. Formality on the latter will probably be determined by budget, staffing and how deep you want to dive into the migration process.
Marketing Platforms Proliferation
Scott Brinker was on of the first thought leaders to really identify the marketing platform landscape and proliferation. In the last three years your potential selections of marketing platforms has ballooned form around hundred to just over a thousand. We use Scott’s image in our latest ebook; but, truth be told we are scared at times to show it to clients. It’s intimidating and for good reason.
Growth in this sector has been mind boggling. And, we live in an age when too many choices may mean no choice or provoke high anxiety for the selection process.
Before you think about a marketing platform I would recommend just doing a basic review process of digital assets, infrastructure, customer focus, staffing and related issues.
We have a two page Digital Analysis doc we use in our work with clients that you can also download via our Dropbox account.
Please know this outline and our processes are always changing; but, this doc will give you a good road-map to work from. I pulled three sections that should be helpful, with “light” introductory comments.
Big Picture Structure-start here
The size of your company and IT infrastructure (if any) has a big impact on selecting a marketing platform.
- What are existing digital assets and how are they managed: Web, email, social, IT or Intranet?
- Who is responsible for managing digital assets & who do they report to?
- Do IT and Marketing share “custody” of key digital assets?
- Are digital assets optimized and integrated with cloud technology?
- What content is being created and shared across the social web, if at all?
How Formal is Your Customer Focus?
We talk with clients about a customer profile at the front end of just about every strategic engagement.
If your a small biz, don’t let your eyes glaze over with some of these items mapped out below.
But, regardless, this is a good exercise to go through and it will help you improved your overall marketing strategy, whether you setup a marketing platform or not.
- Has a dedicated customer profile exercise been done?
- How has the customer journey been mapped? Where and how do potential customers interact with your business and are you tracking this: web site, landing page(s), newsletter, social media engagment?
- Who tests usability issues within the company? That’s fancy marketing speak somewhat for how visitor engage with your web site design or user interface.
- Who owns the customer experience: is one department or multiple departments: marketing, customer service, IT, Sales and who is following through with what’s working and what isn’t? You got “x” traffic and “y” leads via these sources and “45%” didn’t stay on the site more than a few seconds.
- Who responds and/or addresses questions from customers via social media?
- Is a CRM technology or platform being utilized?
- Do you have an internal FAQ and external that addressed common customer issues and questions?
- How do you ensure a consistent high quality experience for the customer across all digital touch points (web site, social, newsletter, YouTube/videos)?
What is the Digital Mindset in Your Company
In our work with clients we experience radical disparities in how a management team looks at and understands digital assets.
Mentioning “digital assets” on a call with some execs does not always trigger recognition in a meaningful way.
But, for many of you, digital assets are increasingly more important in today’s smartphone driven social consumer world.
- Does the exec staff understand how to use and leverage digital? Meaning: have some in-depth perspective on analytics, ROI metrics, how to measure engagement with your brand and more.
- What are digital updates via social channels? News, lists, announcements, webinars, tradeshows, videos, etc.
- Is existing web site used as an organic asset? How frequently is is updated and integrated with other marketing initiatives?
- Budget allocation for digital vs. traditional marketing?
- Is digital owned by one department like marketing or one or a group of individuals. Is critical information in a silo with one department or is it shared?
Digital Infrastructure Issues to Address
Your sophistication when it comes to being aware of and managing your infrastructure is somewhat of an enabling issue for using a marketing platform.
- Is there any internal comprehensive oversight of digital activities? Content is shared and measured “this way” and we review our Google Analytics once a week across all departments or stakeholders responsible for digital.
- Who manages digital project development?
- How is brand consistency addressed via all digital assets?
- What are policies and procedures (if any) for managing content via site & social channels?
- How is social media managed? In house or outsourced or hybrid?
- What are primary KPIs for the company and how are they integrated with digital?
- How is technical infrastructure created and managed? In-house, with outsourcing partners, using cloud services or apps, server location (shared or dedicated)?
How to Select and use a Marketing Platform
Once you’ve done some reviews of digital assets and infrastructure, customer and related issues you should have a better sense of critical background issues.
Now you can tackle and start to review what types marketing platform you want to use.
Remember a platform is only as good as the content you develop and share. Your better off putting more budget into developing quality content vs. a marketing platform.
- Baseline operational issues should be addressed: who’s going to manage the platform, budget, timeline, review of existing tech infrastructure, marketing goals.
- Start small: that may be just using basic content marketing application or WordPress plugin or something like Buffer. We have a list of over 25 top tier content marketing platforms here.
- What’s your social channel strategy today and where are you headed in the future?
- Where are you in a moment in time right now: IT management, email vendor, server and web site technology, apps being used, CRM tools or services, cloud usage (or not).
- The right decision may be no decision: if head count is not in place or insufficient budget then look at other ways to leverage technology using the cloud. Or, focus on creating more and better content.
- Understand interoperability via apps and services can be challenging - we find inconsistencies with published specifications and functionality frequently which in turn create problems once you mesh apps and services.
Creating Content to Stand out in Today’s Tech Drenched World
Quality content goes hand in hand with a marketing platform. Don’t consider the latter without creating the former! Here are few points that should provide background on key metrics for creating “shareable” content.
- Less is more may be better: focus.
- Embrace technology as an integral part of content marketing.
- Don’t start content marketing until a Persona Profile is done.
- Design is baked in to ever marketing initiative: If they can’t use the web site all the content in the world is meaningless.
- If your a $20M a year company then your content marketing should map to your size. Don’t try to mirror Cisco or SalesForce.
- Throw out dated SEO tactics: people are not searching on keywords as much as in years past.
- I repeatedly hammer home themes about the importance of content syndication and using an editorial calendar but, this may not be enough. Publish everywhere you can. My posts on Huffinton Post generate 50-100X times the ROI of my blog. This may not be relevant for your business at all. Where do your “customers live?” Local or national? Understand where/how your competitors are publishing, target these publications, editors and/or journalists accordingly.
- Think like a publisher and not a business. Once Google sources and maps your content to your web site then make it freely available to others. Look at any major portal today including Huffington Post, probably 40-50% of the content is sourced elsewhere.
- I don’t think this bon motte is a brilliant marketing strategy on par with David Ogilvy; but, share content via social channels with a built in rinse and repeat cycle using a marketing platform for content syndication.
- Hire a great writer, editor or thought leader in your industry and put them to work creating content. Creating great content is expensive but, will pay for itself over time. It’s one of the best investments your business can make.
- Give prosumers two plus two, not four: standing out from the crowd: is about sharing original images, writing kick ass copy, sharing it everywhere you can possibly come up with and asking friend, neighbors, customers to comment and re-share.
- Getting traction with content takes time and effort. Don’t expect your content to perform miracles over night.
- B2B brands some times forget emotion is a critical aspect of your content marketing. Look for contextual clues from your customers that identify areas where they need help. Twitter’s built in direct response functionality is used by bigger brands for identifying customers having problems with direct competitors.
- Test headlines and gear the latter for your audience and platform. Some times attention grabbing headlines “What I Learned About Social Media via Andy Warhol” do not get as much traction a a more mundane title: “5 Myths of Modern Advertising ( @digiday). But, platform, customer focus, type of content (short or evergreen type) will have a big impact on the engagement with your headline.
- Over half a billion comments are made on sites across the web each month. Don’t forget about commenting, especially heavily trafficked sites, even with an approval process. I like and use a Disqus account as it powers 144M unique visitors per month according to Quantcast.
Smartphone Summary for Busy Execs
I covered a lot of ground in this post. Here is the quick read: as you think about selecting a marketing platform with associated costs and assessment of your company’s skill-set, carefully review your digital assets and resources.
Remember your migrating your marketing process, technology and probably updating the competency of your staff along the way. Make sure you get buy in from all stakeholders: exec staff, customer support, marketing and IT teams and even your sales team.
As I shared at the outset of this post, this process is fraught with peril and anxiety for most management teams. For good reason, your changing the outbound marketing structure of your company and you want to move in an iterative manner. Iteration drives success in our experience.
Risk and reward live together - it’s important to move your strategic and tactical marketing processes forward, as competitive forces around your business are dynamic.