May 14th, 2012 by Collin Canright
April 19th, 2012 by Collin Canright
Today, the Canright content marketing inbox teems with emails on . . . email. Social media continues to rise on the agenda of all marketers, but email remains the marketing workhorse.
In “Marketers Use Growing Number of Tools to Spur Website Engagement,” eMarketer writes that “the most popular tool in digital campaigns was tried-and-true email marketing, which 78% of respondents said they used. Email newsletters were the No. 2 tactic (59%), followed closely by a social network presence (58%).”
Increasing organic search presence is also critical to marketers, eMarketer notes, reporting on a survey conducted by the trade publication Chief Marketer. To raise search listings, two-thirds of marketers surveyed include Facebook and Twitter “share” buttons on their websites. More than half use optimized landing pages, while just under half upload new content regularly or add blog content.
BtoB online reported last week that “mobile devices are on track to be the dominant platform for viewing email by the end of this year,” with email open rates on mobile devices growing some 82% over the past year. Those results come from “Email in Motion: Mobile is Leading the Email Revolution,” a survey from email deliverability and reputation monitoring company Return Path Inc. The post on the Return Path blog summarizes results in the increasingly popular infographic format.
It may not be surprising to see that companies which primarily focus on email marketing release reports on the increasing relevance of email marketing. Yet these reports also give clues to shifting preferences in content consumption and reading preferences. ExactTarget’s “2012 Channel Preference Survey” provides good insight into how consumers use digital channels, with excellent analysis of which channels work best for what messages.
The survey segments consumers and finds that although the means for personal communications has broadened, preferences for permission-based marketing communications have not. Email leads all other media by a wide margin, with an average of 77% of consumers of all ages preferring email for marketing messages, followed by direct mail at 9%. The ExactTarget report argues strongly for segmentation in email marketing to ensure reader relevance in the inbox.
It turned out to be quite relevant and very convenient for me that Hubspot sent me an email tagging the inbound marketing firm’s report on email marketing segmentation. “How to Segment & Integrate Your Emails for Better Results” shows how offer-based emails work best when the offers are highly targeted and sent to the segment of your list that has shown the most interest in the content related to the offer, based on their past email and website usage.
“The average click-through rates and open rates both showed a considerable increase for the segmented lists compared to the overall lists,” write the researchers at MarketingSherpa, the report’s author. You do not need an elaborate system to accomplish that. As the report states, “If you are tracking opens and clicks, you have enough information to dramatically improve your performance of your emails.”
Back in 2008, we at Canright published our report on the exaggerated death of email. Check out the latest ebook version, “Email Wires the Social Media Buzz.”
April 10th, 2012 by Collin Canright
I know it’s true because I found three great articles on content marketing in my in-box this morning, reminding me of several more I had marked in the dreaded “to read” bookmark.
In FM Signal, from John Battelle of Federated Media, I found a link to “Story Time: The Rise Of Content Marketing,” an article in cmo.com. Anoop Sahgal tells how content marketing is not new. It goes back man years to magazines published by companies wanting to help their customers live and work better.
It’s a very good introduction to content marketing. I especially like his description of what content marketing is and does:
“Content marketing involves creating and curating unique, relevant, and compelling materials that position a company as a genuine industry expert or brand deserving of loyalty. A company’s content can take many forms, including advertorials, white papers, email newsletters, blogs, webinars, Web content, and videos. It can be created by the company, its users, or even by competitors. The overall goal is to attract and retain customers and help ensure that they will not only purchase more products and services, but also become brand evangelists.”
The section “Five Ways to Tell a Story” is also worth a look.
Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios provides “17-Point Checklist for Web Content,” a blog post designed “to make your content more search friendly, sharable, and effective.” It covers the basics of making sure blog and web page content gives you the most Google juice while remaining readable by people.
A story from the Social Media Examiner, “17 Creative Social Media Marketing Mini Case Studies,” puts it all together. These success stories, from both b2b and b2c companies, point to one critical lesson: know your audience and give them stories they can use. Each case study focuses on a different content technique, including blogging, YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn.
For a more in-depth explanation of content marketing techniques and five longer b2b content marketing case studies, register for the MarketingProfs website and download “Content Marketing Success Stories.”
March 10th, 2012 by Collin Canright
You get ideas through friends on social media and then go to Google to validate.
Not social only. Not paid search only. It all needs to work together.
Starts with who you audience is. How consume content? What content? What device? What sharing preferences?
Think about who that end audience is and what you want them to do, the business outcomes you want.
What can we do to inspire our audience to take the action we want them to take: purchase, share, word of mouth?
Look at optimization holistically and what your hub and spoke strategy look like. What at hub and what spokes.
In B2B marketing, some 50-70% of customers are pulling themselves through the sales process by finding information online.
Hub and spoke publishing model: One central repository of information (blog) with distribution spokes (social channels)
That results in shorter sales cycles and prospects.
A ranking is not a business outcome. It’s a stepping stone mechanism for what we really want.
Great content isn’t great until someone shares and reads it.
March 6th, 2012 by Canright Communications
My partner, Collin, and I were working on content promoting an event the other day, and were looking at ways to describe today’s business environment. He first mentioned “challenging”—which we hear a lot these days—but then he went on to write, “where change is continual and ‘normal’ is out of date.”
Did that strike a chord! I have heard the “new normal” but not “out of date.” I have heard that the only constant is change.
Reflecting on this phrase, I think he’s right. The whole concept of “normal,” in business these days, seems not only out of date, but a way of thinking that would be counter-productive to the flexibility of a business.
In our own business, we have been continually evolving our business services in response to the changing needs of our customers over the last 2-3 years. Overall, we support our clients with marketing and sales content.
But that’s where “normal” ends. The multitude of ways we can deliver that content means that we write content and format it according to the channel or channels used–while making sure the core message remains consistent.
We are always studying a number of new ways of communicating with our audiences. So along with the more traditional avenues–articles, white papers, and case studies–we’re also working on the messaging and content for social media and blogs, search optimization on web pages, information for mobile devices and tablets.
Those are new channels and ways of helping our clients deliver useful information wherever and whenever, on the audience’s terms.
So, does normal even exist anymore? Normal to me is a word that stands for stasis and certainty, something which is not the environment of today, business or personal.
March 24th, 2011 by Collin Canright
August 4th, 2010 by Collin Canright
Creating Effective Presentations
Often, when working with clients on creating presentations, I find that they want to include too much information—all in an effort to make it great. This is what I call the “kitchen-sink approach,” and it’s driven by the fear of leaving out something essential. However, a truly great presentation has only a few key ideas that are illustrated with compelling images and minimal text.
According to Nancy Duarte, author of slide:ology, one must think like a designer. As she says, “Design, at its core, is about solving problems…Essentially designers focus on the experience, making it as beautiful and memorable as possible.” In thinking like a designer, your decisions are about the experience you want to create for your audience, with meaning and relevance determining the hierarchy and priority of ideas presented.
Simplicity is a key element is doing a presentation. This does not mean simple. A well-designed slide is one that has clarity. The arrangement is well thought out, words are pared down to their essence, and the slide intrigues so that the presenter fills in relevant information—often with a story from his or her own experience.
Keeping it simple also serves another purpose: You increase the odds of being understood. According to Garr Reynolds, author, Presentation Zen, “There is simply a limit to a person’s ability to process new information efficiently and effectively.” When you have too much information on a slide, your audience has to cope with what Garr calls “excessive cognitive strain.”
So construct each slide with care to make sure it communicates efficiently and elegantly. Because, when it comes down to it, the presentation is not about the slides. It’s really about you and the experience you create. The slides are a partner to your message. The slides can either underline what you have to say, or get in the way. Think of Steve Jobs, a master of presentations who valued design and thought like a designer. Most people remember him, the experience he created, and how he spoke about Apple’s products. The slides, which were beautifully done, added substance to what he was describing. But he was the show. —Christina
April 23rd, 2010 by Canright Communications
One of our clients has its consultants working on copy for a website we are in the midst of redesigning. The redesign will promote a new service focus for the firm and sharpen both its image and value proposition.
As with many business-to-business and professional services websites, the existing copy explains the firm’s capabilities. The head of business development asked me to provide writing guidelines so that consultants can write about what they do in a less internally focused way. Here’s what I sent, with minor edits and deletions:
There’s really only one guideline to follow:
You are writing from the perspective of the value you provide to clients, not the things you do for clients.
That means the benefits rather than the features, to put it in marketing language.
Secondarily, you are telling the visitor why you are the ones who can best provide the value rather than someone else. You do not need to be heavy handed here, and if you are, that’s OK. We’ll tone it back.
Main questions to keep in mind:
What do we do for the client? What does the client get? What results do we generate? How do we help them?
In other words, keep a focus on the benefits to the clients, rather than what you do for the clients. You can list the things you do ONLY after you tell me what the client will get as a result of what you do. Here’s a quick example from your site to show what I mean:
There is no such thing as “ideal” executive compensation and performance measurement framework. What works for Boeing does not necessarily work for Microsoft. Instead, there are a series of decision points that need to be considered including firm culture, its managers, and its positions in the Company business life cycle. As such, our executive compensation offerings include:
* Competitive compensation analysis, including review of base salaries, annual incentive, and long-term incentive payout;
* Annual incentive pay design;
* Long-term incentive pay design, including cash-based, equity-based and phantom equity-based design;
The beginning is OK as a description of the what and an argument of why I might need to do the what. But it doesn’t really say how the business will be better, how decisions will be better, what result we will help you produce, why you should have us help you produce that result rather than someone else.
Again, this is crudely stated and doesn’t need answers as blunt as the questions (becuase professional services and consulting firms aren’t direct-response marketers), but you do need to tell people why they should buy from you.
What do you bring in your services that your competitors do not? You aren’t [large industry leader]. Why [you]? What does [your firm] offer me in the area of “long-term incentive pay design” that someone else doesn’t? What do I get from that? How can I make better decisions? How will that give better performance?
Finally, have some fun. You all seem to like what you do. Let it show. Write like you are excited and don’t worry about using “professional” language or marketing language. We can fix that easily enough.
What other guidelines do you follow to make sure copy and messaging focuses on the buyer’s needs rather than the seller’s services?
March 9th, 2010 by Collin Canright
By Collin and Christina Canright
Ebooks have gotten a lot of attention over last the month with the excitement of the Apple iPad. Before that, however, ebooks had proven themselves as business-to-business marketing tools with distinct advantages over the traditional white paper.
Now we are not discussing ebooks as the electronic books read using the Amazon Kindle or Apple iPad. Instead, we are referring to ebooks used for marketing purposes to show thought leadership, explain a subject, or take a position, much like traditional white papers.
Like a white paper, a pertinent and relevant ebook can generate leads, as they attract attention to the author. The marketing ebook is essentially a unique twist on the white paper format, but is different, especially from a design perspective. Generally published in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, marketing ebooks feature lively, educational copy enhanced by engaging graphic design, in a format that works especially well when read online.
A white paper is like a journal article. An ebook is more like a magazine article.
The ebook format provides a more engaging experience for the reader, builds a case, and uses a more design-intensive format. It’s fun, too. You can use the best of visuals developed online and in magazines to attract readers and compel them to read the concepts you are laying out for them. This is definitely not white-paper style.
But like a well-formed white paper, an ebook tells your prospects that you are a credible source of information, giving you that sought-after expert status. The best part about an ebook is that it is distributed widely for free and is intended to educate, generate interest, and inspire action. Ultimately, an ebook is a way you attract people in order to get a relationship.
In “The New Rules of Viral Marketing,” David Meerman Scott goes so far to say, “ebooks have become the stylish younger sister to the nerdy white paper.” He further stresses the importance the ebook serves by stating that, “ebooks have a great deal of importance to readers. People can instantly see the value of a product that looks like for-purchase content but can actually be downloaded for free. In my opinion, ebooks should be material people want to read….”
Although Scott dismisses white papers, we believe that white papers and ebooks each have a place—each are valid tools. White papers, for instance, are still the top source of information for technology buyers, according to the Eccolo Media 2009 B2B Technology Collateral Survey. It all depends upon the specific marketing message and the audience you are trying to reach.
The release of an ebook can also be a web and social media catalyst. People prefer to consume collateral from their computers: Only 1 in 4 surveyed even print out an online document, the Eccolo survey shows. And content is as much a source of social media outreach as conversation and customer service.
For further ideas on marketing ebooks, here are links to get you thinking:
16 Must-Read B2B Marketing Strategy Ebooks
A survey of ebooks from lead generation to case study writing.
10 Must-Read eBooks for Social Media Lovers
A great list of social media and marketing related ebooks.
February 12th, 2010 by Collin Canright
Research and articles that have caught my attention this past week.
SMB Marketers Segment Emails by Preference, Behavior
Email marketing research on trends for small and medium businesses.
Does social media generate leads?
Reasonable and realistic assessments of Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook for business lead generation.
Differentiating Your Company’s IT Services Menu
Thoughtful discussion of ”trusted relationships” as the differentiating factor in IT services (and other professional) firms, from Ben Bradley of MaconRaine.
Social media strategies that work
Report on research from MarketingProfs.
Atari Computer Concepts
Very cool photos of product concepts c. 1981.
One of the best ways to generate leads is to show what you know, and one of the best ways to show what you know is through great content. By distributing articles, blog posts, newsletters, reports, and other materials, you can become a trusted source on social media sites and feed your social media program with content that educates your prospects. In this way, your business can help theirs.
It’s called content marketing. Content marketing is the use of relevant and educational content to engage an audience and generate interest in an organization and its mission. Here are three content marketing tools you can use to feed your social media lead generating machine:
1. Enter the “white paper,” a ubiquitous and established tool
White papers have become a cornerstone of most lead-generating campaigns, and the format continues to be one of the most thriving campaign tools following the economic downturn. According to the “2009 Media Consumption Report” from TechTarget, the white paper continues to be the favorite content source buyers turn to when evaluating new technology. The content format also continues to have strong viral impact; nearly 93% of readers pass along up to half of the white papers they read and download, according to InformationWeek’s Best Practices Research Series on white papers.
For business marketers, white papers provide a way of generating leads in a way that builds trust and enhances reputations. A well-written white paper indicates that you and your organization are on the cutting edge, that you are a thought leader in your field, or that you know a market or technology extremely well. White papers can enhance your company’s credibility, educate prospects about your services, inform potential customers about ways to improve their business and profitability, and even change the world to make it a better place for your business, friends, and family.
2. The ebook: White paper alternative or replacement?
Like a white paper, a pertinent and relevant ebook is a powerful lead-generating tool. The ebook is essentially a unique twist on the white paper format. The format provides a more engaging experience for the reader, builds a case, and uses a more design-intensive format. It’s fun, too. You see a lot of retro ’50s and early ’60s style designs and unique graphics in ebooks. This is definitely not a white paper style.
Just like a well-formed white paper, an ebook tells your prospects that you are a credible source of information, giving you that sought-after expert status. The best part about an ebook is that it is distributed widely for free and is intended to go viral.
In “The New Rules of Viral Marketing,” David Meerman Scott goes so far to say, “ebooks have become the stylish younger sister to the nerdy white paper.” He further stresses the importance the ebook serves by stating that, “ebooks have a great deal of importance to readers. People can instantly see the value of a product that looks like for-purchase content but can actually be downloaded for free. In my opinion, ebooks should be material people want to read, compared to the dense and usually boring white paper, which our buyers feel they should read but often don’t.”
We believe that each are valid tools. It all depends upon the the specific marketing message and the audience you are trying to reach. And, the release of an ebook can also be a web and social media catalyst.
3. And…don’t discount email as a relevant tool for generating leads
When new innovations hit and catch fire, they are exciting partly because they fill a need, and partly because they are new. As each new tool becomes accepted, the old tools, such as steady email, take a back seat. But just because they are in the background doesn’t mean they are not necessary. Where would you be without email?
Each member of the social media trinity—Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter—can reach an audience, but that audience isn’t necessarily following your updates as religiously as they’re checking their email. People may log in to Facebook several times a day, but their email windows are constantly open. The fact remains: email is still popular.
Indeed, eMarketer reported in November 2009 that college students are holding tight to email use despite the explosion in social networking sites. “These results may be surprising to some, but not if you consider the role email continues to play in the day-to-day lives of Gen Y,” the report stated. “As long as email remains the collection point for social networking updates, including alerts around new followers, discussion updates and friend requests, it will remain a powerful force in marketing and our lives.”
Similarly, SocialTwist, a widget provider, reported in Social Media Sharing Trends 2009 that, “Despite the social media revolution – traditional forms of networking like email and instant messaging continue to be the most popular mediums of sharing content across the Internet. Nearly 60 percent of overall sharing happens over emails.”
So don’t discount the email newsletter and bulletin. For many businesses, a monthly email newsletter, coupled with social media posts, can do more to bring leads in the door than anything else. It keeps your content right where they live—in email—and markets through education, which is the most effective thing any marketing tool can do.
-Collin and Christina