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How To Stop Burying Your Content Signal In So Much Noise [Rose-Colored Glasses]

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How To Stop Burying Your Content Signal In So Much Noise [Rose-Colored Glasses]


The world is very noisy right now.

Sure, a lot’s going on politically, epidemiologically, and societally. But that’s not exactly (or not only) what I mean.

In 2022, organizations put even more importance on creating digital content and content-driven experiences. Consider the recent conversation I had with a new media company in the gaming space. They want to figure out how to ramp up their article production (using an artificial intelligence solution) from 25 to more than 500 per week, or 30,000 posts every year.

You read those numbers correctly: 30,000 posts per year.

No wonder creating a content marketing strategy feels like shouting into a hurricane these days.

Creating a #ContentMarketing strategy feels like shouting into a hurricane. But that’s nothing new, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

But here’s the thing. It’s always been this way.

Just after the invention of the printing press, the Dutch humanist Erasmus complained, “To what corner of the world do they not fly, these swarm of new books? … [T]he very multitude of them is hurting scholarship, because it creates a glut, and even in good things satiety is most harmful.”

Can you imagine what Erasmus would say about all the talking heads in media today?

Still, that doesn’t make figuring out your content marketing strategy any easier – especially if you face expectations like those another client shared with me. His boss rationalizes their content production frequency with this logic:

“We’ll never compete if we dive a mile deep into topics. Our competitors are publishing every day. They’re the ones getting the attention.”

My gaming contact and my client’s boss share the same philosophy: More content equates to more audiences, which equates to more value.

As Luke Skywalker once said, “Impressive. Every word in that sentence was wrong.”

Why more content doesn’t always mean more value

See, despite the advancements of AI, content creation hasn’t been democratized (yet). It’s as hard to create high-quality, differentiated content today as in Erasmus’s era.

Despite #AI advancements, it’s as hard to create quality, differentiated #Content today as it ever was, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Instead, the printing press and newer digital technology democratized only the publishing and distribution of content. In 2022, with the help of technology, people produce and distribute more content faster than at any other time in history.

Artificial intelligence will continue to ease the challenge of content production and distribution. It may even intrude into the content creation stage. Imagine a day when AI can produce an article like this one – and tens of thousands of alternative versions designed to increase its performance across diverse audiences at different times.

But all this content is both signal and noise. My noise drowns out someone else’s signal, and your signal quiets someone else’s noise.

It’s not surprising that content marketers rarely create truly unique content. Your thought leadership probably echoes broader trends that originated elsewhere. Your research likely uncovers evolving trends that others have already identified.

Content marketers probably won’t create the next great piece of literature or Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism (at least not as part of their day jobs).

This is by design. As a marketer, you’re in the business of popularity. You try to show up among the most common signals without becoming noise. You want to provide signals familiar enough to tap into audience affinities to associate your brand with the views popular among your desired audience.

Put simply: Most marketers can’t afford to be the lone voice for a particular topic or stance because they’re mostly measured by how many people engage with the message.

Your mission as content creators isn’t to avoid creating noise or focus only on creating signals. No. Your mission is to make the most “right people” (i.e., those in your desired audience) care. This is the art of creating signals among noise.

Your mission in #ContentMarketing is to make the people in your desired audience care about your #content, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Aim for different, not better

So, how can you separate signal and noise, differentiate your content, and make the right people care? Entertainment media companies provide a helpful model.

Look to these three media company-tested ideas:

1. Create ‘conscious’ content experiences

A “conscious” content experience involves creators who knowingly and purposely evolve the narrative as the needs of its audience change while sticking with the core story or values.

Media companies excel at this – telling the same story over and over again within changing pop-culture contexts or through the lens of different audiences. Look at all the ways they’ve told the story of Spiderman through different eras. The simple comic books of the 1960s and the multiverse movie adaptations featuring the teenage wallcrawler tell the same core story of an awkward teenager learning the great responsibility that comes with great power. Each retelling updates the story to resonate with current audiences.

You can take a similar approach with your blog, resource center, or other publication. You don’t have to lock yourself into a fixed editorial box that focuses only on thought leadership research or how-to articles. Great publications can change their editorial focus as their audience needs or context changes over time.

Software company SAP did this during the pandemic. During the early part of 2020, the content team shifted the editorial strategy for their Future of Customer Engagement and Experience site to feature helpful information regarding the Covid outbreak. This shift in focus helped them grow their traffic and, most importantly, build a more loyal audience.

2. Focus on different, not better

Media companies understand where they want to create differentiation with content and where they won’t. They also understand they don’t have to be the best in a category – they simply have to offer an alternative. Consider the hit television show The Office. In recreating the show for the US, the producers neither tried to copy nor improve upon the UK hit show. They made something different.

Many content marketers focus on producing better research, more provocative versions of thought leadership, or bigger influencers to tell the same story as their competitors. But one of my clients, a consulting firm in the financial services space, tried something different instead.

Rather than focusing on developing deeper thought leadership or more timely advice to its financial advisor audiences, they developed a book club. The company created a community and online content resource to help financial advisors discover the best new books to read. It wasn’t better than their competition. It was different.

3. Remember that quality wins in the long run

Some argue that if you produce enough content, some of it is bound to rank high, go viral, or succeed in another way. Mathematically, this argument is probably correct.

But I find that most content teams that focus on spending more time on fewer pieces do better than those that focus on pumping out as much content as possible.

Some media companies simply spew out content as a commodity, hoping it might be a surprise hit. Others recognize that hits are exceedingly rare. Putting care and feeding into each production lets them play the same game in a different way.

Financial Services company Capital Group offers a great example. As a global organization focused on just about every topical economic issue imaginable, the content team could compete with news organizations and report on every new interest rate hike, international banking change, or a new trend in the stock market. But they don’t. Instead, they focus on producing deep, thoughtful pieces weeks or months after a particular news item has broken. Why? They imbue every piece of content with deep research and analysis so that their audience learns to pay attention to and appreciate every piece of content they produce. This philosophy built a vast and loyal following among financial advisors.

Be the right signal to the right audience

The lesson for my client and the gaming company is the same. It may make mathematical sense to use technology to pump as much commodity content as possible. But that won’t solve the signal-versus-noise challenge.

Hiding their best signals in so much of their own noise makes it harder – not easier – to attract the audience that will care about their content. A glut of even good content distracts people from extraordinary content.

Create content because you have something to offer your desired audience. To those who care, you’re the signal. To those who don’t, you’re the noise.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Get Robert’s take on content marketing industry news in about three minutes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries
 

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute





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HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1

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HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1

This afternoon, HubSpot announced it would be making cuts in its workforce during Q1 2023. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing it put the scale of the cuts at 7%. This would mean losing around 500 employees from its workforce of over 7,000.

The reasons cited were a downward trend in business and a “faster deceleration” than expected following positive growth during the pandemic.

Layoffs follow swift growth. Indeed, the layoffs need to be seen against the background of very rapid growth at the company. The size of the workforce at HubSpot grew over 40% between the end of 2020 and today.

In 2022 it announced a major expansion of its international presence with new operations in Spain and the Netherlands and a plan to expand its Canadian presence in 2023.

Why we care. The current cool down in the martech space, and in tech generally, does need to be seen in the context of startling leaps forward made under pandemic conditions. As the importance of digital marketing and the digital environment in general grew at an unprecedented rate, vendors saw opportunities for growth.

The world is re-adjusting. We may not be seeing a bubble burst, but we are seeing a bubble undergoing some slight but predictable deflation.


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About the author

Kim Davis

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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Advocate | DigitalMarketer

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Advocate | DigitalMarketer

Happy customers love to share their experience, but sometimes they need some encouragement to do so. The cool thing is, once they do, they become even more loyal to your brand.

So, at this stage of the Customer Value Journey, ask people to share their positive experience with your brand by writing a review or sharing a social media post.

Once you get to stage seven, the Customer Value Journey is going to get a whole lot easier for you. This stage is all about learning your customer’s experience, and building up your testimonial database. 

The most important part of this step is asking these four questions. 

What Was Your Life Like Before Finding Our Solutions? What Challenges Were You Facing That Caused You to Consider Us? 

These questions are great not only because it gives you some really good stories, but because it gives you some insight on how you can provide similar prospects with that AHA moment. Understanding the average day of your clients is important in reflecting on your Customer Value Journey, and helps you understand what really set you apart from your competitors.

What Key Features Had the Biggest and/or Fastest Impact?

Not only is this going to get you to really specific stories, you will understand the specific things you provided that gave the biggest impact. The answers to these questions will not only give you great insight and testimonials, it will provide you with ideas for new lead magnets. This part is a new Entry Point Offer goldmine! 

What Has Been the Impact or Results in Your Life or Business Since Using Our Product or Service? 

This is a fairly broad question, and that’s why we put it after the others. You will have already gotten all of the specifics out of the way with #1 & #2. But when you ask this question, this is where you get the most valuable stories. You can use this part as testimonials, as an order form, as a sales page, this part is testimonial gold. 

If You Were Asked to Justify this Purchase to Your Boss or a Friend, What Would You Say? 

This is our favorite question by far. If you had to go back in time and justify this purchase, what would you say? I promise you what we’re going to find is a lot of great ideas for the jobs that your product or service has done. You’ll get a lot of great ideas for your core message canvas. This question is about backfilling all of the assets that you may not have. Here you’re going directly to the customer who are already happy, and using their justifications to help you sell to new customers. 

Hopefully you now understand just how valuable the Advocate stage could be, as well as the key questions you need to ask to get your customers talking. Here’s how it works for our example companies.

When it comes to fashion we all love to show off our outfits. So a good example for Hazel & Hems would be to have customers write reviews for a discount code or points towards their next purchase. 

Better yet, follow up with the customers to ask them to share and tag themselves wearing the items in a social media post and providing them with something valuable as a reward.

For Cyrus & Clark Media, hopping on zoom meetings or a streaming service for live talks about them and their business could generate valuable awareness for them, and a live case study for the agency. They can use the questions Ryan provided during this lesson to conduct the interview.



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Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions

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Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions

Through deals and coupons, Instacart has saved consumers more than $700 million in 2022. As we dive into 2023, the leading grocery technology company in North America has big plans to help consumers save even more while also helping CPGs generate sales. Instacart recently announced an advertising solution that helps both sellers and consumers called Instacart Promotions. This exciting feature is designed to help drive conversions, boost sales, and generate overall engagement on the app.

Interested in this feature and how it can help your business on Instacart? Read on as we dive into everything you need to know about this ad solution including benefits, how to get started, and more.

 

What are Instacart Promotions?

 

Instacart Promotions is an advertising feature that’s now available to all brand partners, including emerging brands, within their open beta program. Promotions give CPGs the opportunity to offer new deal structures, promotions, and incentives with Instacart Ad campaigns. With this feature in place, consumers will have access to more promotions, coupons, and deals that are tailored to them within the Instacart Marketplace.

“With the launch of our new Instacart Promotions, all of our brand partners now have the ability to set up coupons and promotions that can drive meaningful business results while also passing on more savings opportunities to consumers. We’re proud to continue expanding our portfolio with additional self-service capabilities, ad formats that drive results, and measurement that brands need to understand the true impact of their campaigns on Instacart.”

 

– Ali Miller, VP of Ads Product at Instacart

 

Source: Instacart

 

How Do Instacart Promotions Work?

 

Promotions, now available in Ads Manager, gives consumers the ability to discover more promotions and savings opportunities within the Instacart app. These promotions now show up directly on product item cards before checkout for easy accessibility. Promotions allow advertisers to customize their campaigns to sync with their goals and objectives whether that be driving sales, building baskets, or boosting trials.

Instacart shared a recent example of a brand successfully utilizing Promotions… 

Athletic Brewing, General Mills, Sola Company, and Wells Enterprises (maker of Halo Top) are strengthening campaign performance by pairing Instacart Promotions with ad formats such as Sponsored Product and Display. Instacart Promotions include two new flexible and customizable structures: Coupons (“buy X units, save $Y”) and Stock Up & Save (“Spend $X, Save $Y”). 

According to Instacart, in the coming months, the company “will work to further enhance the new offering with new deal structures such as Free Gifts and Buy One, Get One (“BOGO”). The new deal structures will help brand partners run “Free Sample” programs that can win new customers and serve personalized discounts for different customer segments, such as “new to brand” and “new to category.”  

 

Example of Instacart Promotions

Source: Instacart

 

Instacart Promotions Benefits

 

Deliver Value and Savings to Consumers

 

With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to deliver value and savings that will have consumers coming back for more. With this savings feature, your brand can stand out among the competition and offer a variety of deals to shoppers ie: “Buy X units, Save $Y”.

 

Hot tip: Ensure you are selecting products for your promotion that are well-stocked and widely available.  

 

Tailor Your Campaigns to Specific Objectives

 

With a variety of savings options available, your brand can structure deals to fit specific business goals and objectives. 

 

Hot tip: If you’re looking to drive visibility and awareness, try pairing promotions with Sponsored Product campaigns. 

 

Access Real-Time Performance Insights 

 

The Promotions beta program is live and can be accessed within Instacart Ads Manager. Within Ads Manager, advertisers can access real-time insights to maximize performance and adjust campaigns as needed.

 

Hot tip: Make sure your budget matches your discount and objectives.

 

“As an advertiser, Instacart’s unique offering to self-manage promotions is so exciting! Historically, making adjustments to offer values and other promotion parameters was a more manual process, but now we’ll be able to easily make optimizations in real-time based on redemption performance.”

Emily Choate

Emily Choate, Senior Specialist, Marketplace Search at Tinuiti

 

Interested in Instacart Promotions?

 

With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to reach new customers, build bigger baskets, and drive sales. Interested in testing out the beta program or looking to get started with advertising on the app? Drop us a line – we’d love to help elevate your CPG brand on Instacart.

 

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